$15M Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Launched

$15M Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Launched

By Moira Carlstedt, President, CEO, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership; and Owen Washburn, Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, JPMorgan Chase

By many traditional measures, the Indianapolis economy is thriving. Unemployment is near record-low levels and below the national average, at just 3.7 percent as of November 2018, central Indiana’s technology sector is growing, quickly transforming existing industries and birthing new ones in this city, and new commercial and residential developments are providing improved amenities and housing to existing residents and newcomers alike. Yet, barriers to economic prosperity, including housing and transportation costs remain, contributing to economic growth that is not broadly shared.

While Indianapolis’ low cost of living relative to larger cities is often touted as a competitive advantage, more than 28 percent of all households – approximately 106,000 families – in Marion County are housing cost-burdened, meaning that a family is spending more than 30 percent of its income on housing, according to Indianapolis-based Greenstreet Ltd. And if median wages in the region continue to stagnate or decline, as they have since 2010, we expect that number will increase.

One critical piece of the inclusive growth puzzle is affordable, transit-accessible housing. Thus, to promote inclusive growth in Indianapolis, our organizations – the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership® (INHP), Cinnaire, and JPMorgan Chase – are partnering with the City of Indianapolis and other financial institutions, to launch the city’s first $15 million equitable transit-oriented development (ETOD) fund.

ETOD is a deliberate effort to preserve or create 1,000 housing units within a half-mile of transit stops to meet the needs of residents from all backgrounds and create a variety of affordable housing options within specific areas of growth. INHP will borrow from the fund to acquire sites suitable for mixed-use, mixed-income housing. This program provides choice in housing and can help people benefit from the positive impacts of transit and creates livable neighborhoods with better access to jobs, healthcare, childcare, and other amenities.

But where do you start? There are currently seven regionally significant “walkable urban places” on Indianapolis’ Red Line; four of which have rent premiums which prevent low- and moderate- income families from living in areas served by the rapid transit. The majority of affordable or subsidized units along the first phase of the Red Line are set to expire by 2026. The need is urgent and the time is now.

Families that are housing cost-burdened often face difficult choices between housing affordability, quality and location. In places where affordable housing is not situated near jobs or transit, families often face higher transportation costs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, after housing, transportation is the second largest expense for the average American household. In Indianapolis, the Center for Neighborhood Technology found Indianapolis households spend 46 percent of their income on housing and transportation combined, compared to Cincinnati, Ohio, where households spend 42 percent and Buffalo, N.Y. residents who spend 39 percent.

JPMorgan Chase believes more people should have access to opportunity and the chance to move up the economic ladder, particularly in communities facing disinvestment and displacement. Therefore, a $500,000 grant was made to the ETOD fund as part of JPMorgan Chase’s PRO Neighborhoods program, a $125M, five-year community development program that works to promote local solutions and thriving neighborhoods in communities across the country.

However, there’s more that can be done. We must support more innovation, like ETOD, through public-private partnerships to connect the importance of housing to our community. We invite you to learn more about ETOD and what INHP and its partners are doing throughout Marion County as champions for affordable housing by visiting INHP.org/Enhancing-Neighborhoods.

Click to share!