Transportation costs have a significant impact on overall affordability. According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, the greater Miami area is one the least affordable metro areas in the U.S. for moderate-income households when housing and transportation costs are combined.
Moderate-income households in South Florida are spending up to 74% of their income on housing and transportation costs. These high costs are particularly difficult for Miami’s lower-income households. Facilitating the creation and preservation of affordable housing in compact, mixed-use neighborhoods served by transit helps to decrease these costs. Transit-oriented development (TOD) has been shown to effectively stimulate economic development, increase transit ridership, and reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.
Various programs in Miami currently encourage affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate-income households in transit-served neighborhoods. Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s tax credit applications and the local Surtax program currently provide incentives for the development of affordable housing near transit corridors and high-frequency bus routes.
As a result, Miami has had a number of successful transit-oriented affordable housing developments, including Brickell View Terrace, Seventh Avenue Transit Village, and Santa Clara, among others. One of these TOD projects, Brownsville Transit Village, was built on an underused parking lot next to the Brownsville Metrorail station in 2011. The 400-unit affordable housing development effectively increased ridership at that transit station by nearly 30% the following year.
Additional policies and land-use strategies should further encourage the development of transit-oriented affordable housing in high-opportunity areas to meet growing needs.
The City of Los Angeles developed the city’s first TOD-focused Consolidated Plan for federal housing resources (2013-2017), which included identifying areas for transit-oriented development and better aligning public and private resources to encourage the development of transit-oriented affordable housing. As a result, the city funded over 20 TOD affordable housing projects.
City of Los Angeles, 2013-2017 Consolidated Plan
To identify the transit corridors with the most potential for catalytic investments, the City for the first time expanded its analysis beyond HUD-funded projects and mapped the City’s transit, housing, public services, community amenities, and need indicators. This mapping exercise laid out, visually, not only where there were coincident benefits, services and assets, but where there might be further opportunities for the integration of funding, services and processes…
Goals that build institutional capacity include, but are not limited to:
• Integrate and align efforts in planning and managing goals, projects, and activities in the ConPlan. Includes alignment with assets outside of the ConPlan, such as transit efforts funded by other sources, and resources from housing finance entities including public-private partnerships.
• Foster integration of efforts and cooperation by developing and utilizing cross-agency working groups to effectively and efficiently design and deliver initiatives that:
• Leverage resources
• Engage the private sector
• Enhance civic engagement
• Take full advantage of aligning assets, such as transit
In 2010, a multi-sector partnership in Denver formed a fund to preserve and create affordable housing near the region’s growing transit system. The fund currently contains over $20 million in acquisition capital to finance the development of at least 2,000 affordable units throughout the Denver metro area by 2024.
The City of Austin requires the local transit agency to prepare a station area plan for each TOD district that identifies strategies to achieve affordability in at least 25% of new housing units near the transit and bus service.
Entitlement jurisdictions should target TOD Consolidated Plans: Miami’s various entitlement jurisdictions should better integrate transportation, land-use, and community planning into federal housing plans. Local cities also could prepare unified and targeted Notices of Funding Availability centered on equitable transit-oriented development alongside Miami’s current and future transit corridors.
Housing funds should target resources near rapid transit services: Miami-Dade County’s new Revolving Loan Fund and the Miami-Dade County Continuum of Housing Fund should prioritize the creation and preservation of affordable housing near high frequency transit corridors and employment centers.
Land-use modifications: The City of Miami recently modified its zoning code to provide additional parking reductions for affordable housing developments within a quarter mile of a transit corridors or a half-mile of transit-oriented development. These plans should be further supported by required plans to identify affordable housing strategies near current and future transit corridors. Other jurisdictions should provide parking reductions and increase density along transit corridors.
Amend the Low Income Housing Tax Credit criteria to encourage TOD: The Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s Qualified Allocation Plan sets up the state’s annual priorities for allocating tax credits. This plan could be modified to specifically encourage the development and preservation of affordable housing near the multimodal Brightline terminals in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, Additional incentives should also be used to encourage the creation or preservation of affordable housing along the Tri–Rail system across South Florida communities due to the new Tri-Rail Downtown Miami Link extension.