Politics & Government
5:06 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Planning For Affordable Housing Near Durham-Orange Rail Line

Light rail transit with Amtrak visualization of area near Durham Station Transportation Center.
Credit Triangle Transit Authority

Advocates of the proposed light rail line from Chapel Hill to Durham say local governments should plan early to set aside money for affordable housing near train stations.  Researchers with Triangle Transit Authority met with Durham residents earlier this month. 

TTA research associate Geoff Green says the agency examined how property values changed when other metropolitan areas decided to build light rail.

“One consistent lesson that's been learned is that in a lot of transit station areas, property values can skyrocket,” he says.  “It happened in Charlotte.  Land prices around their light rail line increased dramatically after the plans to build the line and after construction of the line started.”

Green says cities that created affordable housing trust funds tended to provide more options for low-income residents.  He says those residents are also more likely to use public transportation.  The city of Durham hosts a symposium next month to discuss housing prospects near the light rail line. 

Voters in Durham and Orange Counties will start paying a half-cent transit tax to support the project April 1st.  Critics say the plans are too costly and don't cover enough ground.  Wake County Commissioners decided not to put the tax referendum on the ballot last year.