Is transit-oriented development affordable for low- and moderate-income households?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, land use - impacts, land use - planning, land use - transit oriented development


transit-oriented development, affordable housing


In this study, we explore the role of transit-oriented development in producing affordable housing. Using a list of eight criteria, we identified 107 TODs in 24 rail-served regions. By employing a variety of research techniques, we concluded that, on average, 24 % of units in TODs are affordable to households earning between 50 and 80 % of the Area Median Income (i.e., low- and moderate-income households, respectively). While 14 % of the units are designated affordable housing (DAH), the remaining 10 % are naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH). Our results also show that the very fragmented and localized approach to affordable housing provision has resulted in an uneven distribution where close to half of the 107 TODs offer none or less than 10 % of their units as affordable, while 15 % of the TODs are 100 % affordable.

Furthermore, both voluntary and regulatory measures adopted at city, county and state levels to incentivize the production of affordable housing have only limited impact, resulting on average in 5–10 % of affordable units and rarely exceeding 15 %. In addition, they produce units affordable to households earning about 80 % of the AMI. Top-down regulatory measures seem to have a very limited impact on numbers of affordable units offered in TODs and are less effective than bottom-up voluntary and targeted programs, policies, and actions. This means that various forms of Inclusionary Housing Policies and Zoning (the way they are currently implemented) are ineffective in producing affordable housing in TODs.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.