Ensuring the Affordability of Housing near Public Transit

Aerial Image of Charlotte Park Apartments in San Jose, CA

Creating and Building Affordable, Transit-Oriented Housing

ROEM Development Corp. is partnering with public agencies and cities throughout California to create and build mixed-income, transit-oriented developments (TODs). These walkable “connected communities” – multi-story buildings often with shops on the ground floor and multi-family rental units or offices above – include affordable housing in neighborhoods where families can easily walk, bike or ride public transit to their jobs, schools and other services. Among its many benefits, the mixed-income TOD helps ensure that housing around public transit stays affordable for those who use it.

On average, transportation is the second largest household expenditure after housing, according to the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. Our daily commutes are a crushing problem and seriously impact our quality of life and regional economies. As fewer people can afford to live near job centers or suffer through their staggering commutes, it’s not uncommon for companies to announce they are moving out of state or out of the region.  TODs have become a particular focus of mass transit agencies, which are disposing of property and pushing to increase ridership, reduce commute time and turn the area around their stations into livable retail destinations.

In Silicon Valley, the data to support the TOD initiative is pretty astounding. In 2010, Silicon Valley commuters logged 16.9 million vehicle miles per day; by 2014 that number had jumped 63% to 27.5 million daily vehicle miles. And we’re only going to keep adding cars: By 2030, Silicon Valley’s population is expected to grow by 300,000 residents.

ROEM has a history of building mixed-income TOD developments, with recently completed projects in San Jose (linking to Caltrain and light rail), Mountain View (linking to Caltrain) and the San Gabriel Valley (linking to Metrolink). We’ve been selected by the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit to develop the 4.5-acre Railroad Square in Santa Rosa, with 400 units of housing and 10,000 square feet of retail. We’re currently competing to develop the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s Tamien Station – a residential mixed-use, mixed-income TOD including a large public parking structure on 6.96 acres in San Jose.  With several more requests for proposals in the works, we highlight a few of our recent projects in this newsletter.

Affordable housing has a significant impact on the quality of life and economic viability of communities. As has been our practice for the past 30 years, ROEM looks forward to forging new public-private partnerships in order to help solve our state’s affordable housing crisis, one project at a time.

Tax reform and the future of LIHTC program

The multi-family housing market – particularly affordable housing – is waiting to see how the new federal administration and Congress plan to tackle tax reform. Since the 2012 demise of California’s local redevelopment agencies and their tax increment funding source for the development of affordable housing, companies like ROEM have continued to mix and match sources of equity and debt in order to successfully finance affordable housing. The federal low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) – a historically bipartisan initiative – is widely considered the most important resource for creating affordable housing today. We join our colleagues in looking forward to a signal from Congress on the future of the LIHTC program.

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