On March 25, the House Appropriations THUD Subcommittee held a hearing on "Creating Equitable Communities Through Transportation and Housing." The hearing focused on the status of public transit in America and strategies to improve economic and health outcomes in distressed communities through the effective use of public transit. Noting the negative impact of historic policies, such as highway construction and redlining, Chairman Price and Ranking Member Diaz-Balart began the hearing by reminding participants of the importance of transit access as the country recovers from Covid-19.
The first witness called to provide testimony was Dorval R. Carter, the president of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Mr. Carter noted that low-income, people with disabilities, and otherwise disadvantaged members of society have disproportionately low access to public transit. He also noted that public transit is a crucial element to economic development in Chicago and elsewhere.
The next witness was Steve Kirk, president of Rural Neighborhoods Incorporated. Mr. Kirk similarly argued that economic opportunity is crucial to uplifting distressed neighborhoods. Focusing specifically on HOME Investments Partnership, Community Development Block Grant, and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Mr. Kirk argued that policymakers should look at these programs to promote transit-oriented development, which would connect people to jobs, healthcare, and nutrition opportunities.
The next witness was Dr. Catherine Ross, Professor and Director of the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech. Dr. Ross’s testimony focused on the history of transit development in America and how it disproportionately harmed lower income communities.
The final testimony came from Elizabeth Kneebone, who is the Research Director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation. Focusing on the history of financial and housing policies, Ms. Kneebone noted that historical policies have tended to work against goals of equity and that the disparate impacts of these policies are felt today.