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Research Report

Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities: Subsidized Housing Opportunities near Transit and the 50+ Population

As communities address the general shortage of affordable housing, preserving affordable housing in transit-oriented developments (TODs) is one of the challenges that communities must address to increase livability. A livable community has affordable and appropriate housing, supportive features and services, and adequate mobility options for people, regardless of age or physical ability. Because housing near transportation is desirable, property values tend to rise over time reducing the incentive for property owners to accept federal subsidies to keep housing affordable.

This study analyzes the location of affordable housing in 20 metropolitan areas by mapping federally subsidized rental apartments in each area and measuring the amount of affordable housing within certain distances of transit. The study uses five areas as case studies—including site visits and interviews with residents 50 and older—to provide more information on the challenges and benefits of different locations of affordable housing.

It finds that a substantial number of affordable apartments are located near public transit in these 20 metropolitan areas, but more than two thirds of the federal subsidies that keep these apartments affordable will expire within the next five years; that subsidized housing meets a crucial need for residents with few housing options;  and that affordable housing must be both well served by quality public transit and within walkable distances of amenities and services to benefit older residents.  The report also contains policy recommendations for federal, state, and local policy makers to ensure that these areas provide affordable housing and transportation options in addition to a range of features that allow people to retain independence as they age.
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