Advocating for Equity in New Federal Transit Administration Rule

26 May 2015 |
Advocating for Equity in New Federal Transit Administration Rule
With the affordable housing world waiting with bated breath on the soon-to-be released Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, we wanted to point your attention to a little-known, yet critical new rule being handed down from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The rule provides policy guidance that highlights the strong connections between transit, affordable housing, and an equitable economy. PolicyLink sent a comment letter largely supportive of the rule as written, with a few suggestions emphasizing fair housing principles, maximizing the total number of affordable housing units constructed, and pointing to the helpful guidance from Fair Housing Assessments.
One of the challenges transit infrastructure presents is the frequent arrival of gentrification forces as soon as transit improvements are even in the planning stages. Research shows that without equity-focused intervention, transit investment leads to physical, economic, and social displacement of low-income residents and small businesses. Low-income individuals typically use transit more intensively than higher income residents, who often use cars while living in transit accessible neighborhoods.  
This has strong implications for climate policy, since lower income households living near transit drive half as much as higher income households in the same neighborhoods. That is why it is heartening to see the Obama administration embracing a triple-bottom line policy through this FTA rule that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, revitalize disconnected local economies, and address the affordable housing shortage.
Advancing transportation equity is a critical element to expanding opportunity, and there are many available tools to ensure that low-income and people of color are not displaced as soon as their long neglected neighborhoods gain access to transit infrastructure. To keep up-to-date on all the latest innovations and ideas connecting transit and equity, follow the Transportation Equity Caucus.