NLIHC signed on to a comment letter from fair housing advocates coordinated by the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) regarding the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA’s) proposed revisions to the measures used to evaluate applications for New Starts transit program funds. FTA’s New Starts program is the primary financial resource for new or extended locally-planned, implemented and operated transit capital investments for heavy or light commuter rail, as well as bus rapid transit.
The letter supported the proposed rulemaking, which would make significant changes to the criteria by which applications for transit projects will be evaluated. For the first time, two affordable housing factors would be considered when awarding transit money:
1. Policies in place to support the maintenance of or increase to the share of affordable housing in a transit project corridor.
2. The existence of publicly supported housing in the transit corridor.
These provisions would help to preserve existing affordable housing and increase development of additional affordable housing in the immediate vicinity of a newly funded transit stop. By including support for affordable housing, the FTA explicitly recognizes the important relationship between transportation and housing.
Fair housing advocates noted that FTA funds play a central role in urban development and in shaping housing patterns. How those funds are invested can determine whether low income people are displaced and whether open housing opportunities are advanced, as required by the Fair Housing Act. The letter warned that the proposed criteria fall far short of providing for fair housing choice and urged FTA to explicitly condition funding by requiring applicants to demonstrate significant results in meeting civil rights and fair housing obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and the Department of Transportation’s Environmental Justice Circular.
The letter is available at: http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Civil_Rights_Comments_Ltr_on_FTA_Ne...
Information about New Starts is at: http://fta.dot.gov/12347_5221.html