Up for Growth Action Applauds Senate Introduction of the Build More Housing Near Transit Act

November 18, 2021 | Up for Growth Action
Reading time: 5 minutes min

WASHINGTON, DC – Up for Growth Action today announced its support of the Build More Housing Near Transit Act of 2021, a bill introduced by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Mike Braun (R-IN) that would spur much-needed housing development near transit locations while fulfilling critical public transportation, economic development and environmental goals in communities nationwide confronting a severe shortage of affordable and accessible housing.

America is experiencing a severe shortage of homes, and nowhere is this crisis more acute than in transit-served neighborhoods,” said Up for Growth Action CEO Mike Kingsella. “The Build More Housing Near Transit Act addresses the critical link between transportation and housing, and will help spur the creation of more walkable, livable and equitable communities.

“We have a national housing shortage crisis, and one thing is clear: we need to build more housing,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. “Our bipartisan bill will make sure that when cities expand or redevelop their public transit systems, they are also building more affordable housing with it. This will help put more families in homes, grow local economies, and cut carbon pollution.”

“For too long, transit and housing issues have run in parallel. This bill finally marries the two by giving local governments the tools they need to encourage high density and mixed use development to help relieve the affordable housing crisis,” said Senator Mike Braun (R-IN). “This bill gives local communities the resources they need to build more housing near transit systems and encourages them to enable their economies to grow through more housing options for families.”

According to Up for Growth’s Housing Underproduction in the U.S. report, the U.S. fell 7.3 million homes short of meeting housing needs from 2000-2015. One reason for housing underproduction near transit is the way that federal dollars are currently allocated. Evaluations for transit projects do not accurately consider how various factors contribute to or thwart development.

The bill incentivizes early collaboration between transit agencies and local governments and will create closer alignment of land-use policies and transit investments through encouraging housing feasibility assessments,” said Kingsella. “Additionally, the bill will shift program guidance to help drive additional resources towards affordable housing development, specifically in transit-served areas.

The Build More Housing Near Transit Act would direct the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to provide a scoring benefit within the project justification evaluation to project sponsors that submit housing feasibility assessments and demonstrate substantial efforts to align land use and zoning policies to encourage more affordable housing near the proposed transit project.

The bill would also allow federal funding used for affordable housing planning and development within one-half mile of a project station to count toward the total project cost when determining government cost-share.

Introduced in the 117th Congress as H.R. 2483, the Build More Housing Near Transit Act was included as a provision in H.R. 3684, or the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, which passed the House of Representatives in July 2021.

“If passed, this legislation will increase public transportation ridership and encourage the creation of housing that uses less land, take cars off the road, and allows people and their families to live closer to jobs and other opportunities,” said Kingsella. “We applaud Senator Schatz and Senator Braun for introducing the Build More Housing Near Transit Act and their ongoing leadership on this critical issue.”

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Up for Growth Action® is a 501(c)(4) federal legislative advocacy organization that advocates for policies to achieve housing equity, eliminate systemic barriers, and create more homes. Up for Growth Action is affiliated with Up for Growth®, a 501(c)(3) cross-sector member network committed to solving the housing shortage and affordability crisis through data-driven research and evidence-based policy.