Post-Harvey disaster recovery can be a huge turning point, but will the change lead to equity?


Hardy Yards, a proposed development on 43-acre brownfield in downtown Houston, would offer access to a multi-modal transit station. (Photo credit: Design Workshop)

After the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, which includes 300,000 flooded cars, Houston, Texas is beginning to rethink its transportation and land use priorities. The city has a window of opportunity to construct new housing that’s connected to transit and addresses a number of environmental and equity goals.

To identify potential TOD sites, Houston is looking at parcels of land that are not toxic, not in floodplains, served by frequent transit, and not expensive. But the city also needs to be mindful of repeating its mistakes of the past; many of the TOD-amenable areas are “in majority Black and Brown communities that endured decades of systematic disinvestment going back to “redlining” practices in the 1930s, and that now fear displacement.” (The Urban Edge)

In an effort to address equity concerns, the City of Houston launched the Complete Communities Initiative, which designated five under-resourced areas as pilot communities. The communities will work with a team of dedicated staff across several City departments to identify priority projects and develop implementation strategies to help ensure that existing residents can stay in homes that remain affordable.

Equitable TOD (eTOD) initiatives are occurring all over the country, and the archive offers extensive literature on eTOD best practices and case studies. Oriented Toward Equity: A Rating System for Equitable Transit-Oriented Development, from Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, offers an eTOD scoring system to measure the capacity for eTOD within a given public transit station area. Download this report, along with many other eTOD tools, by visiting the library.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.