Transit oriented development (TOD) is a planning and design approach that seeks to create compact, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods around new or existing public transit stations. Many transit advocates, planners, community-based developers, and others have embraced TOD as a strategy to create more vibrant and connected neighborhoods, increase transit ridership, expand opportunity, and reduce the greenhouse emissions that contribute to climate change. However, the high demand for housing adjacent to transit can make TOD homes inaccessible to people with lower incomes, while the rapid appreciation sparked by new transit investments can lead to gentrification and displacement, countering equity goals.
Equitable transit oriented development (eTOD) refers to TOD efforts that are undertaken with an explicit commitment to achieve equity goals through dedicated strategies that ensure low-income residents and residents of color benefit from – and are not displaced by – the new development. With strategies in place to preserve and expand affordable housing, protect tenants from rising costs and displacement, connect residents to jobs and economic opportunities, stabilize and support small and local businesses, and more, eTOD can foster equitable development, creating healthy, opportunity-rich neighborhoods.
To effect equitable outcomes, transit-oriented development must be pursued with equitable processes. Local residents and community-based organizations should be meaningfully engaged beginning with the initial planning phases alongside developers, business owners, transit agencies, local governments, and funders. Where new transit stations are planned in proximity to existing affordable housing, strong tenant protection policies must be integrated into eTOD.
In addition to the resources listed on the right, see Enterprise, SPARCC, CNT, and How Housing Matters for more information about equitable transit-oriented development.