A new AARP report co-authored by the National Housing Trust and Reconnecting America has found that more than 250,000 privately-owned, federally subsidized apartments exist within walking distance to quality transit in 20 metro areas. With demand to live near transit on the rise, this critical housing resource is increasingly at risk in the face of upward pressure on housing prices and expiring government subsidies. The report concludes that preserving affordable housing near transit is essential for creating livable communities for older Americans. The report, "Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities: Subsidized Housing Opportunities Near Transit and the 50+ Population," shows that of 250,000 project-based Section 8 and Section 202 apartments within a half-mile of existing or proposed rail stations in 20 regions, more than two-thirds are covered by federal housing contracts set to expire by the end of 2014. As contracts expire, property owners have the option to opt out of the HUD programs and convert the housing from affordable to market rate.
Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study on providing affordable housing in transit-oriented development and referenced the results of the Reconnecting America/National Housing Trust/AARP study. GAO drew similar conclusions, noting that securing project-based Section 8 properties in transit-oriented development may be integral to ensuring the ongoing availability of affordable housing near transit.
The AARP report recommends that Congress appropriate sufficient federal funding to renew all Section 8 contracts, and increase funding for the Section 202 housing program. The report also recommends that state and local governments allocate funds to preserve affordable housing in transit-rich areas, including the development of affordable housing acquisition funds for properties near transit, and that governments develop "early warning systems" for properties with expiring federal subsidies.
National Housing Trust President Michael Bodaken and Reconnecting America President John Robert Smith both commented on the importance of preserving affordable housing near transit.
"Affordable housing near public transportation is a very special resource because families who use transit can reduce their transportation expenditures by 16 percent – so these subsidized apartments are made even more affordable because of their location," noted Reconnecting America President and CEO John Robert Smith. "The federal government should ensure that this housing remains affordable."
For the full report, click here.