Research & Development

Transit-Oriented Development

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Transit-Oriented Development Working Group
Living Cities believes that transit-oriented development (TOD) can serve as a land-use and transportation solution to connect people to places of employment, key services, and the communities they care about. The TOD Working Group promotes a regional focus on equitable outcomes in TOD practice and policy by advancing innovation that leverages new financial tools, business opportunities, and development planning.

Current Investments and Initiatives

Regional TOD Grant Portfolio

In late 2011, the Working Group approved grants for:

The Denver Foundation (The Greater Denver Region, CO)
The purpose of this grant is to connect low-income residents to middle-skill job opportunities and expand resources for both economic development lending and affordable housing. The region’s $6.7 billion FasTracks project, one of the largest mass transit projects currently under construction in the United States, will extend fixed-guideway transit service beyond the three existing light rail corridors and extensive bus system. It provides the Denver region an unparalleled opportunity to capitalize on this unique infrastructure investment and enhance the quality of life for all residents. Partners for this work include Mile High Connects, the local TOD collaborative, and the Denver Regional Council of Governments.

Urban Habitat/Greater Communities Collaborative (Bay Area, CA)
The purpose of this grant is to create a comprehensive economic and workforce development strategy that prioritizes creating jobs and improving job access for low and moderate-income people and communities. Although the Bay Area is internationally known as a center of innovation with globally-competitive industries and corporations, the region's overall economic performance since 1990 has been relatively weak. Every sector grew more slowly in the Bay Area than in the rest of the nation, with the exception of knowledge services. This grant will support an Economic Opportunity Strategy that will align TOD investments with a regional economic development and workforce development strategy. Partners for this work also include Reconnecting America and Inner City Advisors.

Research & Development Portfolio

TOD Finance Gaps

The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) and Enterprise Community Partners are researching existing equitable TOD financing systems in select regions and identifying financing gaps and tools. Regions in this study include Atlanta, the Bay Area, Denver, and the Twin Cities. Partners in this work also include Strategic Economics and Reconnecting America. This research will be completed by the end of 2012.

Pre-Development Challenges

TransAct is designing an affordable TOD pre-development framework to help communities evaluate a project’s viability and determine appropriate interventions. This tool will be based on detailed case studies on existing pre-development complications and offer strategies informed by varies broker types and project scales. This research will be completed by early 2013.

Transit Procurement Model

The Los Angeles Alliance for A New Economy is developing a national procurement model for the purchase of transit and bus vehicles that will include job creation, job quality, workforce training, and economic development criteria. The goal is to have transit agencies across the country use this model for rolling stock purchases of all sizes. This effort seeks to create thousands of new jobs and extensive community benefits for low-income communities. This work is also supported by The Surdna Foundation.The draft of the model procurement will be finalized in early 2013.

Past Investments and Initiatives

Sustainable Communities Boot Camp

In January 2011, Living Cities hosted the Sustainable Communities Boot Camp. Participating regions received up to $5 million each from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. The Boot Camp promoted a comprehensive framework for regional planning and development based on economic strategy, equity, finance, collaboration and data.

Bay Area Transit Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) Fund

In March 2011, Living Cities’ Catalyst Fund closed a $3,000,000 loan to the Bay Area TOAH Fund, sponsored by the Great Communities Collaborative, a 24-member collective of Bay Area nonprofits, national organizations, and regional philanthropic entities. This Fund will provide early-stage financing for housing and mixed-use developments in mixed-income TOD communities. For more information about the Fund, please click here.

Central Corridor Funders’ Collaborative

Living Cities is a member of the Central Corridor Funders’ Collaborative. The collaborative is a coalition of local and national funders working in a cross-sector partnership to unlock the transformative potential of the coming Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line connecting Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The initiative has great potential to concentrate population and investment in this corridor and away from less sustainable development. Collaborative members envision stable, thriving neighborhoods throughout the Central Corridor that reflect community identities and link all people to regional opportunities and local amenities.

Great Communities Collaborative

In 2008, Living Cities invested $250,000 in The Great Communities Collaborative, a group of foundations and nonprofits working to ensure that the San Francisco Bay Area is made up of healthy, thriving neighborhoods that are affordable to all and linked to regional opportunities by a premier transit network. The Great Communities Collaborative has been recognized as a nationally leading initiative to advance equitable transit-oriented development, and has been the subject of a number of case studies.

Working Group Membership


  • Don Chen, Ford Foundation
  • Lee Sheehy, The McKnight Foundation


  • Lisa Davis, Ford Foundation
  • Shawn Escoffery, The Surdna Foundation
  • Lindy Hahn, Morgan Stanley
  • Alaina Harkness, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Rodney Harrell, AARP Foundation
  • April Hawkins, Met Life Foundation
  • Benjamin Kennedy, The Kresge Foundation
  • Antonio Manning, JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  • Katy Mixter, Citi Foundation
  • Eric Muschler, The McKnight Foundation
  • Bruce Schlein, Citigroup
  • Scot Spencer, The Annie E. Casey Foundation

If you have any questions, please contact Juan Sebastian Arias at