Affordable Housing and TOD: Assessing Parking Lots as Stimulus To Affordable Housing Development at DART Rail Station, presents the concept of addressing the lack of affordable housing in desirable areas in Dallas by turning underutilized surface parking surrounding DART rail stations into transit oriented development with affordable housing integrated into the site.
The lack of affordable housing in Dallas and in particular affordable housing in desirable areas is is a problem the City is struggling to overcome. Many low and middle income households are prevented from finding homes in the type of healthy, integrated neighborhoods that lead to positive life outcomes for their children. And despite HUD mandates, court orders and the hard work of elected officials, city staff, developers and non-profit and advocates, Dallas still struggles with developing affordable housing in desirable areas of Dallas. This report offers an innovative concept to help address the problem, turning underutilized land around DART rail stations, in the form of sparsely used parking lots, into equitable transit oriented development with affordable housing incorporated into the site. The report evaluates each station in Dallas for the utilization of DART owned land surrounding it, as well as three different indexes that measure various criteria for successful transit oriented development and affordable housing development. Based on that analysis the report identified the top nine stations for this type of development. Some of those stations could be developed immediately, while other will take several years of planning and infrastructure improvements. The report also includes individual pro-formas for each station exploring the possibilities of development at each station. Based on those pro-formas, over 250 affordable and market rate housing units could be built immediately and more than 1,000 could be built within three to five years.
Equitable Transit Oriented Development As a Tool for Affordable Housing Development
Transit-oriented development (TOD) and affordable housing are important on their own, but are more meaningful in tandem. When built in areas with greater opportunity, that have greater access to jobs, quality schools, other amenities, and less exposure to crime than lower-income neighborhoods, the positive impacts of transit-oriented affordable housing are multiplied. This report outlines research on the mutualistic relationship between TOD and affordable housing, and argues for the need to pursue such a symbiosis. When built, affordable TOD results in housing and transportation cost savings for residents; increased ridership for transit agencies; new jobs and economic development; integrated neighborhoods; and environmental benefits from reducing vehicle miles travelled.
Leveraging publicly owned land at transit stops provides an economically feasible pathway to achieve greater integration and access to opportunities for low-to-moderate income households. Low-income neighborhoods in Dallas have limited access to social and economic opportunity because of high levels of poverty, poor access to jobs, and deteriorating infrastructure. Many of Dallas’ high opportunity areas have few viable sites for development of affordable housing at a meaningful scale, making large, low-intensity land uses such as DART station parking lots highly desirable, and a logical choice for affordable housing development. Leveraging DART owned land for singular developments, or as a piece of larger development agreements, furthers the city’s housing and neighborhood vitality agenda, and supports DART’s operational and development goals. These transit-oriented affordable housing will also increase DART ridership, relieve congestion on roads, increase disposable income, improve the quality of life for low-income residents, create new and better access to jobs, and encourage more sustainable urban form. Placing these developments in higher opportunity and lower poverty areas, gives children from low-income families a significantly better chance to break the cycle of poverty and lead more productive lives.
Identifying Which Stations are the Most Suitable
To identify DART stations where transit-oriented affordable housing would have positive impacts for residents and communities, we compiled and analyzed a specific set of data in order to quantify and evaluate the suitability of transit-oriented affordable housing at DART Rail stations in Dallas. The suitability analysis has three distinct parts. First, HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Marketing Opportunity Index was used to identify higher opportunity Census block groups in the City of Dallas that are appropriate for the development of affordable housing. Second, an index was developed to rank each station based on metrics related to TOD and economic development (ED) potential. Finally, a qualitative assessment of key station area metrics was used to identify appropriate stations for further exploration. Further detail on the methodology can be found in the report itself.
Ultimately, nine stations were chosen for further exploration based on the criteria discussed above.
The final stations discussed in this report are:
- Forest Lane
- Inwood / Love Field
- Market Center
- MLK, Jr.
- White Rock
- 8th & Corinth
- LBJ / Skillman
Each station profile includes high-level facts about the station and the surrounding area, a narrative of our recommended development strategy, and a map showing changes to the physical and regulatory environment we recommend to productively and sensitively steward each station’s neighborhood towards its TOD future.
The City of Dallas is in desperate need of affordable housing, and transit oriented development offers a great opportunity to address that need within our City. The land around our DART stations is sparse and precious, and we has a community need to ensure that the land is utilized as a true public benefit. By incorporating affordable housing into transit oriented developments around the stations, we not only address the need for affordable housing but also, increase economic and job development, create housing and transportation cost savings for residents, increase ridership for the transit agency, create better integrated neighborhoods, and reduce the environmental impact of auto travel by reducing vehicle miles travelled.
The report has laid out those benefits, provided an analysis to determine the stations most suitability for this type of development, and analysed each one of the most suitable stations to determine a timeframe and potential possibilities. More work is needed and much of it is in alternating policies, including DART’s, to ensure that the precious land around DART stations is utilized as a true public benefit.