White House announces support for ADUs (right); Amtrak expands service to New Brunswick (top-left); St. Paul approves multifamily homes citywide (center-left); Cycling and bus transit in Kenya (bottom-left)
Article of the Week
Federal Housing Administration Expands Access to Mortgage Financing for Homes That Have or Will Include Accessory Dwelling Units
Press Release, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), October 16 2023
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has introduced a policy allowing lenders to include income from Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in mortgage underwriting. This move aims to remedy the nation’s housing crisis and support new homeownership. The policy permits a portion of estimated ADU rental income to qualify borrowers for FHA-insured mortgages. This initiative aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s Housing Supply Action Plan, emphasizing the importance of addressing affordable housing and enhancing homeownership access.
SOUTH AMBOY—South Amboy Ferry Service to New York City Will Launch Oct. 30
Carly Baldwin, Patch, October 17 2023
Starting October 30,new ferry service will operate from South Amboy to Midtown and Lower Manhattan. The service, operated by NY Waterway, will run hourly on weekday mornings and evenings, from a site 50 yards from the location of a planned permanent ferry terminal. One-way adult tickets will be $18. Discounts are available of 10-trip, 40-trip, and monthly passes.
NEW BRUNSWICK—Amtrak Adds More Service for Customers at New Brunswick and Princeton Junction
Press Release, Amtrak, October 13 2023
Amtrak is ramping up its service in New Jersey, adding new stops at New Brunswick and Princeton Junction, connecting travelers to major cities from Boston to Washington, D.C. This move comes in response to growing demand and aims to offer passengers new alternatives for interstate travel. Local leaders, including U.S. Senator Cory Booker, applaud the expansion, highlighting its potential to boost the local economy and cater to the needs of the community.
MINNESOTA—St. Paul City Council Votes to Allow Multi-Unit Housing throughout the City
Katie Galioto, Star Tribune, October 18 2023
In a landmark decision, the St. Paul City Council has approved significant zoning code amendments, paving the way for duplexes, triplexes, and townhomes to be constructed citywide. This move, aligned with the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan, aims to enhance housing supply and affordability. Advocates believe the changes will promote sustainability and walkability, especially near major transit corridors. As St. Paul embraces this shift, the city will consider further zoning modifications for areas around transit points.
TEXAS—Commissioners want action, precision on overlays for equitable transit-oriented developments
Chad Swiatecki, Austin Monitor, October 13 2023
Members of the Urban Transportation Commission (UTC) are urging the City of Austin to co-prioritize affordable housing and access to transit. Specifically, the UTC is emphasizing equitable TODs (eTODs) which aim to address wealth disparities, displacement, and offer job training while preserving neighborhood culture. These eTODs are seen as a solution to reduce vehicular traffic and promote transit connectivity, especially benefiting low-income and communities of color. Planning is underway for North Lamar and South Congress eTODs, with public engagement sessions scheduled soon.
Can car-dependent suburbs become walkable communities?
Bart Hawkins Kreps, Resilience (also published by An Outside Chance), October 19 2023
Most urban areas in North America have been built for car-dependency and with only a limited number of walkable neighborhoods. However, as energy costs rise, and cities seek to address public health concerns, build social cohesion, reduce infrastructure maintenance, and support public transportation, walkability may serve as a key tool to achieving affordable and livable places. According to Tristan Cleveland, an urban planner and newly minted PhD, retrofitting neighborhoods into high-density walkable district may be one way to increase the supply of these high-demand places. Cleveland’s 2023 dissertation, Urban Intercurrence, examines four intensive efforts to build walkable downtown districts in suburbs.
FLORIDA—975 Apartments Coming Near Dolphin Station
Genevieve Bowen, Miami Today, October 17 2023
Upland Park, a $1 billion transit-oriented project near the Dolphin Park and Ride Bus Terminal in Miami, has reached an agreement with Miami-Dade County to supply water and sewer services, and will begin construction of the first of three phases. Phase one will include 441 garden apartments, 350 multifamily units in a midrise building, 35,000 sq. ft. of neighborhood-oriented retail, and about 800 parking spaces to accommodate retail and residential uses and transit riders. Located adjacent to the SMART Plan Dolphin Rapid Transit Station, the plans for Upland Park call for a total of 1,700 housing units, 140,000 sq. ft. of retail space, a hotel, office space, and a charter school.
RWANDA—Africa’s Urban Planners Urged to Develop Pedestrian-Friendly Infrastructure
Xinhua, News Ghana, October 17 2023
At the International Walk21 Conference in Kigali, experts highlighted the need for pedestrian-centric infrastructure in African cities. Kigali Mayor Pudence Rubingisa championed walkability as a solution for efficient and affordable urban transportation. He revealed Kigali’s initiatives, including dedicated bike lanes and green spaces, to make walking a pleasure for its residents. With walking being a primary mode of transport for many Africans, the call emphasizes the shift towards sustainable and inclusive urban planning.
KENYA—Try Cycling and Bigger Buses for Urban Mobility
Eric Kasina, Nation, October 16 2023
Kenya’s cities are growing fast, and so are traffic jams and pollution. The solution? Experts suggest bigger buses and more cycling. These eco-friendly solutions can not only help to reduce carbon emissions but also support cleaner and more vibrant urban environments. Government can play a crucial part by calling for substantial investment in public transport infrastructure, accelerating projects like the BRT on Thika Road, and fostering of a robust cycling culture through dedicated bike lanes and safety measures.