November 2, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA-50) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5) and Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Mike Braun (R-IN) reintroduced the bipartisan Build More Housing Near Transit Act to encourage the construction of low- and middle-income housing in transit-served, walkable locations. The introduction of the bill follows the Department of Transportation’s recent announcement on how their lending authorities can be used to finance housing near transit at below market interest rates. Rep. Peters first introduced a standalone House version of the legislation in 2019.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the United States has a shortage of 7.3 million rental affordable homes, and 11.3 million Americans spend more than half of their income on housing. In California, there is a shortage of 1.3 million homes for extremely low-income renters. The Build More Housing Near Transit Act of 2023 aims to facilitate the construction of more housing, increase transit ridership, and maximize federal investments. The bill will also help slow climate change, as research shows that building housing near transit lines has vast potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“San Diego, like many communities across the country, faces a growing housing crisis that forces people to move far from where they work,” said Rep. Peters. “Our bill will maximize federal investments in transit and increase housing options for cost-burdened Americans to alleviate this pressure. On top of that, it boosts our efforts to protect the environment by growing transit ridership and getting more cars off the road.”
“It’s no secret that many cities across America, including Spokane, are facing unprecedented workforce and housing shortages,” said Chair Rodgers. “Our bipartisan bill aims to address these challenges by expanding access to affordable housing near transit centers that will help people live more comfortably in and around the communities where they work.”
“The clearest way out of our national housing shortage is by building more housing,” said Senator Schatz, Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. “Our bipartisan bill will incentivize cities to build housing when they expand or redevelop their public transit systems. This will help put more families in homes, grow local economies, and cut carbon pollution. It’s a win for everyone”
“For too long, transit and housing issues have run in parallel,” said Senator Braun. “This bill finally marries the two by giving local governments the tools they need to encourage high density and mixed use development to help relieve the affordable housing crisis. This bill gives local communities the resources they need to build more housing near transit systems and encourages them to enable their economies to grow through more housing options for families.”
The Build More Housing Near Transit Act would direct the Department of Transportation to incentivize local governments to promote housing development and regional growth in and around the transit corridors of future New Starts projects. Specifically, this bill will amend U.S. Code Section 5309, which governs the application process for capital investment grants to:
- Direct the Secretary of Transportation to boost a transit project’s rating if the project includes pro-housing policies for areas along the project route;
- Define pro-housing policies as state or local action to remove regulatory barriers to constructing or preserving housing, reduce or eliminate parking minimums or minimum lot sizes, establish by-right approval processes for multi-family housing, commit substantial public property to affordable housing development or preservation, and eliminate or raise residential property height limits; and
- Engage the Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop a methodology to evaluate the merits of the pro-housing policies documented in a CIG application.
In addition to Reps. Peters and Rodgers, original House cosponsors of the bipartisan Build More Housing Near Transit Act of 2023 include Reps. Marilyn Strickland (D-WA-10), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6), Ami Bera (D-CA-6), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Madeleine Dean (D-PA-4), Robert Garcia (D-CA-42), Jeff Jackson (D-NC-14), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8), Kim Schrier (D-WA-8), and David Trone (D-MD-6).
Letter of support from 90 national, state, and local groups, including Circulate San Diego, here.
“The Build More Housing Near Transit Act will provide additional incentives to create affordable housing near transit, helping our region address both our housing affordability and climate crises,” said City of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “I’m grateful to Congressman Peters for his consistent and persistent leadership at the federal level on the top issues of concern to San Diegans.”
“America is experiencing a severe shortage of homes, and nowhere is this crisis more acute than in transit-served neighborhoods," said Mike Kingsella, CEO of Up for Growth Action. "The Build More Housing Near Transit Act addresses the critical link between transportation and housing, and will help spur the creation of more walkable, livable, and equitable communities. If passed, this legislation will increase public transportation ridership and encourage the creation of housing that uses less land, taking cars off the road, and enabling more Americans to live closer to their jobs and other opportunities. We applaud the lead sponsors in the U.S. House and Senate for introducing the Build More Housing Near Transit Act of 2023 and their ongoing leadership on this critical issue.”
“Effective planning that coordinates transit, housing, jobs, and land use is vital to tackling today’s housing supply and affordability crisis,” said American Planning Association, Angela Brooks, FAICP. “The Build More Housing Near Transit Act will spur better coordination of housing and transportation promoting public transit projects that also increase mobility options and access to housing. This legislation encourages local governments to improve their housing and zoning policies through land use and zoning reforms, such as reducing parking minimums, allowing missing middle housing, and making use of public land for mixed-income housing. The American Planning Association is proud to support this legislation as a catalyst for housing reform and to ensure transportation provides the highest benefit to the nation’s communities.”
“YIMBY Action and our chapters across the country call for the swift introduction and passage of the Build More Housing Near Transit Act,” said Laura Foote, Executive Director, YIMBY Action. “Housing and transit go together, and this commonsense approach will help us build more housing in walkable, transit-served areas. The national housing shortage has dramatically driven up the cost of living, eroding the middle class and driving millions of Americans into poverty. The Build More Housing Near Transit Act takes critical steps to help us build more sustainable communities, rich with opportunity for all.”
“Our nation’s longstanding affordability crisis – fueled by a lack of housing at all price points – demands responsible and sustainable action from lawmakers, and the National Apartment Association (NAA) is proud to support the Build More Housing Near Transit Act as an important step in the right direction,” said Bob Pinnegar, President and CEO of NAA. “By incentivizing local governments to increase critically-needed housing supply with close access to public transportation, this bipartisan and bicameral legislation will help improve housing access for generations of Americans to come. NAA thanks Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) – as well as Representatives Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Ore.) – for their steadfast leadership on this endeavor.”
Full text of the legislation here.