2013 Annual Conference and Materials

ON THE STREET: TRANSPORTATION AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING

October 18, 2013
Cosponsored by: Housing Land Advocates, Garvey Schubert Barer and David Evans and Associates
Conference Location: David Evans and Associates, 2100 Southwest River Parkway, Portland, OR 97201
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Thomas W. Sanchez
Conference attendees are eligible for 6.5 AICP credits

Dwindling resources for transportation and transit agencies have reduced transit options and transportation capacity for those that need them most. Transit dependent and “drive till you can afford” households need efficient and reliable access to jobs, services, and support networks as much as any other demographic group. Yet affordable housing supported by good transportation networks are increasingly difficult to find, and what we consider ideal communities- economically and racially diverse, walkable, near services, schools, parks and adequate transportation- are increasingly limited to those with higher incomes.

What does this mean in your community and what can Oregonians do to balance location, cost and access to housing? HLA is bringing together national and state experts to explore these concepts and issues, and consider ways to support a community vision that does not leave anyone behind. In particular, speakers and panelists will consider how to distribute transportation infrastructure equitably across an entire community.

Conference Speakers and Panels

Keynote Address: “Driving Up Housing Costs: Transportation and Social Equity”

Thomas W. Sanchez, Virginia Tech, College of Architecture and Urban Studies

Professor Sanchez addressed the role of transportation on affordable housing and social justice. Starting with the history of transportation and housing policy and its impact on access and affordability, he argued that sprawl and auto-dependence are the result of poor planning and a lack of political will. Professor Sanchez highlighted a method for improving pubic and private decision-making by incorporating the cost of transportation into the cost of housing. Contrary to current trends, families may be better off by forgoing a car and using a portion of the savings to help pay for more expensive housing that is closer to the city center and multiple transportation options. Although access to transportation is often overlooked by consumers, the cost of housing is directly related to how you’re going to get there.

(Sanchez Presentation)

“I Get Around: Real Estate, Development Plans and Transportation”

Matthew Gebhardt, Portland State University, School of Urban Studies and Planning

In-migration is driving population growth in Portland, increasing demand for housing and pushing up costs. Studies on the relationship between housing demand and transit show that proximity to transit increases demand and results in higher housing costs. Attracted by this increased value, many Portland developers are looking to invest in sites near transit. Professor Gebhardt noted that this increased demand is squeezing out affordable housing options in Portland. Due to higher prices, 40 percent of all Portland households are paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing. That number jumps to 50 percent for renters in the city.

(Gebhardt Presentation)

Panel Discussion: “Transportation and its Impact on Housing Choice”

Anyeley Hallova of Project ^ and Eric Cress of Urban Development Partners presented on different approaches to transit-oriented development. Hallova shared case studies of contrasting student housing developments that Project^ recently completed: The Union in Corvallis and ArtHouse in downtown Portland. The Union ran into community opposition over perceptions that dense student housing would aggravate traffic and parking problems. Alternatively, ArtHouse is a transit-oriented housing development for PNCA students in downtown Portland. The project is adjacent to mass transit and has no parking on site. Eric Cress is a real estate in Portland, focused on areas with frequent transit service and designed to serve a population that walks, bikes and rides more than they drive. Cress compared Portland with the San Francisco Bay Area, where increased regulation increases the cost of housing.

Eric Cress, Urban Development Partners

(Cress Presentation)

Anyeley Hallova, Project Ecological Development

(Hallova Presentation)

Thomas W. Sanchez, Virginia Tech

Matthew Gebhardt, Portland State University

Case Study: Regional Transportation and Equity Advocacy, Lessons Learned

Sam Tepperman-Gelfant, Public Advocates

This case study describes how a group of community organizations used an Equity, Environment, and Jobs (EEJ) advocacy platform to impact transportation and land use decisions in the San Francisco Bay Area. In response to a history of sprawl, unsustainable transit patterns and investment with displacement, San Franciscans are working towards with a sustainable community strategy. The policy priorities of EEJ are to distribute housing growth equitably, protect against displacement, and improve local transit service. This approach has resulted in a high level of community engagement and led to increased public involvement in local and regional planning processes.

(Tepperman Gelfant Presentation)

Panel Discussion: “Ride ‘til You Qualify: Transit Accessibility and Housing”

Lisa K. Bates, PSU School of Urban Studies and Planning

A recent study looks at transportation decision-making by choice riders versus transit dependent riders, and provides analysis on the connection between transit dependence and low-income earners. Data shows a stark contrast between choice and transit dependent riders- in the number of transfers they make, the type of transit they live near, and they types of employment opportunities they can access using transit. The discussion raises provocative questions related to who Portland’s public transportation system serves best and how this relates to actual transit needs and income.

(Bates Presentation)

Jonathon Ostar, Executive Director, OPAL

The grassroots campaign Bus Riders Unite (BRU) marries transit justice organizing and policy advocacy for Portland bus riders. This effort connects with and empowers transit dependent citizens and works with them to identify top priorities for social justice initiatives related to transportation. In 2014, BRU is training community leaders to advocate for improved bus stops in East Portland, support the continuation of the Portland Public Schools YouthPass, and win the Campaign for Fair Transfer, which reduces costs for low-income individuals by changing Trimet’s transfer policy.

(Ostar Presentation)

Jay Flint, Sunset Empire Transit District (Tillamook County, Ore.)

Transportation planning for low-income individuals in rural areas is often overlooked. The very nature of rural areas provides significant challenges to providing sufficient routes and service levels, especially with the limited funding that rural jurisdictions have available to them. Clatsop County, OR is working to expand transit service, and planners must decide how to use limited funding.  Is it more beneficial to increase frequency along routes with high ridership, or increase access in outlying locations even though they have low ridership? Jay Flint discussed how Clatsop County is addressing their transportation needs and making tough decisions in an era of decreasing revenues.

(Flint Presentation)

Sam Tepperman-Gelfant, Public Advocates

Case Studies: Recent Affordable Housing Developments

Jodi L. Enos, Northwest Housing Alternatives

Alma Gardens is a transit oriented affordable senior housing development at Orenco Station, located along Portland’s west side light rail line and developed by Northwest Housing Alternatives.  This case study outlines the funding challenges and partnership opportunities that developers face as they work to build transit-oriented affordable housing. Despite the challenging financial environment, AlmaGardens was able to purchase land and qualify for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) in order to build the project. And timing and location were important factors in securing additional funding- lenders are increasingly looking to fund new construction and transit-oriented projects. Now fully leased, many new residents gave up their cars before moving into the development, citing proximity to public transit.

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