WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) introduced the Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act today to help promote affordable housing near transit lines and city centers.

“As the cost of living rises and the shortage of affordable housing grows, community organizations are looking for creative ways to develop new affordable housing units near city centers or along accessible transit lines,” said Congressman Smith. “The Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act will help provide an opportunity for transit entities to partner with community-driven organizations and utilize unused land for affordable transit-accessible housing for the people who need it most.”

The Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act establishes a process by which a non-profit organization or other third-party entity can receive a land transfer from a federal transit grant recipient at zero cost for the purposes of affordable housing. Under current law, recipients of federal transit funding may transfer property no longer needed for a project to a state or local government at no cost, however, it does not allow recipients to do the same for non-profit or other non-governmental entities.

The non-profit organization or other third-party entity receiving the land transfer would be required to have a demonstrated track record of developing affordable housing. The process also ensures housing units will meet certain standards of affordably by requiring the Secretary of Transportation to certify that at least 40% of the units are affordable to households with incomes at or below 60% of AMI and that the housing will remain affordable for 30 years.

You can read the fact sheet here and bill text here.

Endorsing Organizations: BRIDGE Housing Corporation, Congress for New Urbanism (CNU), Enterprise Community Partners, Family Promise, Grounded Solutions Network, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Mercy Housing, Mercy Housing Northwest, Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), National Apartment Association (NAA), National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), National Housing Conference (NHC), National Housing Trust (NHT), National Leased Housing Association (NHLA), National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), National NeighborWorks Association, Prosperity Now, Up for Growth Action, Washington State Mortgage Bankers Association, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Sound Transit, National League of Cities

You can read the endorsement coalition letter from 20 of the organizations in support of H.R. 3680, the Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act here.

Statements of Support:

“A shortage of affordable housing options and a soaring cost of living are pushing too many working families out of South Seattle,” said Girmay Zahilay, King County Councilmember. “Governments at every level must design solutions that keep communities housed and allow them control over their own destinies. Congressman Smith’s bill would allow certain transit agencies to transfer underutilized land and buildings directly to community-based organizations. This change to allow direct transfer would create opportunities for community-led development of affordable housing, on-site resources for people in need, and increased access to public transportation. This is a promising step forward as we work together to solve our district’s most pressing issues that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Fast-growing regions like ours that are expanding transit also face major challenges expanding access to affordable housing,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “There is no better place to develop affordable housing than near transit, where people can rely less on costly and carbon-generating automobiles. This bill supports agencies like Sound Transit in our work to turn the surplus property that remains after transit construction into vibrant and affordable development that ensures that transit remains accessible to all.”

“Our nation’s affordable rental housing crisis puts millions of America’s lowest-income and most marginalized renters at risk of housing instability, evictions, and in worst cases, homelessness. Congress needs to use every tool available to address this crisis head on,” stated Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Congressman Smith’s legislation is a common-sense step in the right direction, and Congress should enact it as part of the American Jobs Plan alongside major investments to make housing affordable for people with the greatest needs.”

“National NeighborWorks Association supports and endorses Congressman Smith’s bill, the Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act, knowing that it will positively impact the ability of nonprofit developers to increase affordable housing not only in the state of Washington, but also across the country while creating much needed transit oriented development,” said Lou Tisler, Executive Director, National NeighborWorks Association. “Our member organizations, and other nonprofit developers, having the ability to receive federal property directly from federal transit projects will increase efficiencies and reduce costs while benefiting our communities and neighborhoods into the future.”

"Increasing the supply of affordable housing near transit is one of the most important ways to advance economic and social equity. Transit agencies often own land that is unnecessary for transit facilities but ideal for affordable housing. Unfortunately, current law doesn't allow agencies to donate this land to affordable housing developers,” said Mike Kingsella, Executive Director of Up for Growth Action. "The Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act takes this challenge head on by providing transit agencies with the authority to donate unused land to produce affordable housing in transit-served areas, ensuring that more people have critical access to jobs and opportunity-driving assets.”

“Addressing the nation’s affordability crisis needs to be a top priority, and the National Apartment Association (NAA) is proud to support the Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act as a responsible and important step forward,” said Bob Pinnegar, NAA President and CEO. “Congressman Smith’s bill tackles the intersection of housing and transit head on and will help local governments and communities nationwide tackle housing issues in their own backyards. Transforming unused land left from federal transit projects into affordable housing helps strengthen communities and broadens access to jobs and resources – expanding equity and affordable housing is a win for all.”

“The Local Initiatives Support Corporation is proud to support the Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act since we know firsthand the impact affordable housing near transit can have on the lives of low-income families. Transportation costs are typically the second largest expense for low-income households, after housing. Ensuring that underserved families are able to live in affordable housing near transit furthers their ability to access employment opportunities and critical community services. The Act authorizes the federal government to transfer unused land from federally supported transit projects to non-governmental organizations for the purpose of developing affordable housing. We applaud Rep. Smith for his leadership in supporting equitable transit oriented development,” said Matt Josephs, Senior Vice President for Policy, Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

“As the shortage of affordable housing options and the soaring cost of living are pushing too many working families out of South Seattle, Washington Mortgage Bankers Association endorses the creation of affordable housing and endorses Congressman Adam Smith’s proposed legislation ‘Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act.’ Governments at every level must design solutions that keep communities housed and allow them control over their own destinies. Congressman Smith’s bill would allow certain transit agencies to transfer underutilized land and buildings directly to community-based organizations. This change to allow direct transfer would create opportunities for community-led development of affordable housing, on-site resources for people in need, and increased access to public transportation. This is a promising step forward as we work together to solve our district’s most pressing issues that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lisa Goldsmith, current President, representing the Washington Mortgage Bankers Association.

“With nearly 40 years of experience as a non-profit community partner, we know that increasing access to affordable housing along transit lines has far reaching benefits for families, small businesses, local economic productivity and community wellness. The Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act is a commonsense policy change that builds on the strength of local non-profit partners to increase the availability of transit-adjacent housing and protects against the displacement of historically neglected neighborhoods,” said Daniel A. Nissenbaum, CEO of the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF). “LIIF is pleased to support this bill as an important step towards achieving our vision of creating communities of equity, opportunity and well-being for all.”

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