Leverage Transit-Oriented Development Loan Programs to Accelerate Equitable Economic Recovery

Author: Christopher A. Coes


The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced by millions of Americans in accessing healthy, prosperous, and resilient neighborhoods. However, the ability for all Americans to afford to live, work, play in, and benefit from these neighborhoods, also known as Communities of Opportunity, has been in crisis for decades. Whether in urban, suburban or rural markets, demand for walkable and resilient communities with affordable housing and transportation options, great amenities, and a sense of place continues to outstrip supply. Despite broad recognition of the enormous economic and environmental benefits of walkable communities, particularly transit-oriented development (TOD), communities face many federal, state, and local barriers to meeting this demand.

To help communities meet the pent-up demand for affordable housing and businesses in walkable, resilient communities, and to accelerate an equitable economic recovery, the Administration should establish a national equitable transit-oriented development policy. The policy should promote and coordinate federal investments and action to support equitable transit-oriented development and community revitalization projects that lead to more mixed-income housing, new revenue streams for budget-constrained public transportation agencies, climate change mitigation and a stronger and sustainable post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

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About the Author

Christopher Coes is the Vice President for Land Use and Development at Smart Growth America (SGA), and is a nationally recognized leader in leveraging public policy, the private sector, and community assets to build equitable, sustainable communities. For the last ten years, he has led SGA’s built environment programs to help accelerate the implementation of performance-based and community-driven land use and development practices that create environmentally responsible, socially inclusive, and economically competitive walkable urban places. These programs include LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors; the National Brownfields Coalition; and TOD Finance and Advisors, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of Smart Growth America.

Christopher is also known for his nationally recognized work on community revitalization and public-private partnerships, such as the National Opportunity Zones Academy, the Attainable Housing and Social Equity Initiative, and USDOT’s LadderSTEP Pilot Cities, which has helped over three dozen communities pursue sustainable and equitable economic development and facilitated over $1 billion in new smart growth real estate deals.

Prior joining Smart Growth America, Christopher A. Coes served as Deputy Director and Senior Campaign Advisor for Transportation for America. Christopher is a native of Thomasville, GA.