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Schatz, Braun Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill To Build New Housing Near Public Transit, Address National Housing Shortage

Bill Encourages Cities, Localities to Add Housing Around Transit Projects

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) today reintroduced the Build More Housing Near Transit Act. The bipartisan legislation seeks to address America’s housing shortage by incentivizing local governments to build more housing near federally funded transit projects. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Ore.).

“The clearest way out of our national housing shortage is by building more housing,” said Senator Schatz, Chairman of the Senate 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”

Specifically, the legislation would direct the Secretary of Transportation to provide a scoring boost to the competitive grant application of public transit projects that include housing development near new stations.

“For too long, transit and housing issues have run in parallel. 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,” said Senator Braun.

Currently, 47 percent of renter households are cost-burdened, meaning more than 30 percent of their income goes towards housing. Given that transportation costs are often a household’s second-largest expenditure behind housing, building more housing in transit areas would help cut down on both costs.

Moreover, by offering easier access to transit centers, the Build More Housing Near Transit Act will connect more employees with jobs and boost economic output, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased public transit ridership. It will also make federal transportation projects more efficient and ensure federal dollars are used most effectively.

The Schatz-Braun legislation is endorsed by Up for Growth Action, the American Planning Association, and others. For a full list of endorsing organizations, click here.

“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 Angela Brooks, FAICP, President of the American Planning Association (APA). “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 provide 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 of YIMBY Action. “Housing and transit go together, and this common sense 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.”

The full text of the bill is available here.