Low-wage workers especially stand to benefit from the affordable transportation that the Central Corridor will provide. As the transit system promotes economic growth, however, we must ensure that these same workers can still afford to live along the route. The east end of the Central Corridor especially struggles with poverty; the median household income is just $32,202. These neighborhoods are already in an affordability crisis. Unchecked gentrification will only worsen the problem.
Twin Cities LISC has released a report about aligning housing plans along the Corridor to ensure that we reap the full benefits of affordable, accessible transportation. As the report says, “Families that already live here must be supported to stay and thrive, while culturally and economically diverse new residents must be drawn to the area by the quality of life and mix of housing options.” To achieve the first objective, one strategy is to help current residents stay in their homes. This involves foreclosure prevention and access to money for home improvement and efficiency upgrades. Not only do these activities help homeowners but they also help landlords maintain quality rentals.
Another piece of the puzzle is careful planning of new development. Most of the projected 17,000 new housing units along the Corridor will be privately developed. Private development is well and good (and even private developers create workforce housing opportunities). However, development must be in partnership with government and nonprofit agencies to ensure adequate rental and home-ownership options for people of varying income brackets. Mixed-income neighborhoods are not only possible, they’re healthy. A careful housing expansion will welcome a diverse range of new residents without displacing current ones.
Improving the housing stock and mitigating the foreclosure crisis is good for struggling neighborhoods. Homeowners will benefit from rising property values and renters will benefit from higher-quality housing options. However, we can’t overlook the low-wage workers who stand to gain the most from accessible and affordable transit. Wouldn’t it be a pity if the Central Corridor pushed out the residents most in need of it?