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Why is it So Hard to Build Housing Near Transit Stops? – Route Fifty

The analysis by Yonah Freemark, the principal research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute, illustrates how difficult it can be to build “transit-oriented development” even at a time when such projects have gained popularity among a growing number of interest groups.

Building dense housing developments near subway, rail and bus rapid transit routes appeals to environmentalists working to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, urbanists who want to promote walkable neighborhoods and housing activists who want more affordable places to live.

But that’s easier said than done, when transit systems have such a limited reach, and local governments often prevent development near existing stations.

“We have a problem with lack of investment in public transportation that’s been going on for decades. And that lack of investment means it’s very difficult to build new housing near those lines,” Freemark said in an interview. “It’s also true that even in most of the regions where there is substantial transit, new housing was more likely to be located far from transit, rather than near transit, and that suggests to me that that’s an issue with local planning and zoning policies.”


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