NGOs Work to Fill Transit-Oriented Development Void

cycle.jpgToday the Tri-State Transportation Campaign joined the One Region Funders’ Group* and The Fund for New Jersey in announcing a grant program to foster metro area transit-oriented development.

The program intends to encourage transit oriented development, or mixed use development within a fourth to half mile of a train or bus station, by offering financial support to municipalities ready to address the linkages between affordable housing, energy efficiency and development near transit stations. Up to ten small grants will be awarded to communities across downstate New York and Connecticut. Up to five grants will be awarded in New Jersey.

The grants, according to a TSTC press release, will be awarded to help fund project planning and design. While the state of New Jersey and New Jersey Transit have had TOD funding programs in place since the 1990s, resulting in a number of projects including the Transit Village Initative, New York and Connecticut have not kept pace. Last spring the MTA announced a new plan to encourage TOD development, but has so far not followed through with a formal program. The New York State Department of Transportation, meanwhile, has come up with a "smart growth" web site, and not much else. Connecticut has embraced TOD concepts, but has also been slow to realize a blueprint for carrying them out.

In addition to filling state TOD gaps, the non-profit grants will ideally bring more of a focus on environmentally sound, affordable development. Says TSTC's Kate Slevin: "It makes total sense to include affordable housing near your transit stations."

To this point, Slevin says, much TOD housing has been targeted at high-income buyers.

By putting homes and businesses near public transportation, transit-oriented development is of course considered a crucial element in reducing auto dependence and its attendant health and environmental impacts. For more, check out TSTC's new online TOD clearinghouse.

* The One Region Funders’ Group includes the Fairfield County Community Foundation, Long Island Community Foundation, New York Community Trust, Rauch Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and Westchester Community Foundation.

Image: Tri-State Transportation Campaign