Transit Oriented Development in Denver

June 29, 2012 -- FRESC

Developing a transit system that serves all members of a community can transform the quality of life and spur renewal. FRESC is working to ensure that a huge investment in a development project will connect working people to good jobs, affordable housing, and healthy communities. 

Mile High Connects, formerly the Mile High Transit Opportunity Collaborative, is a partnership of private, philanthropic, and nonprofit organizations committed to developing inclusive, affordable and livable communities within walking distance of public transit. In November 2004, taxpayers in the Denver Metro region voted to invest in a more environmentally friendly and better connected future by passing a sales tax to fund a mass transit expansion known as FasTracks

The Mile High Connects works to ensure that FasTracks and the Metro Denver regional transit system as a whole fosters communities that offer all residents the opportunity for a high quality of life. 

FRESC recently attended a meeting where regional planners spoke about “the twenty minute city,” in which one could reach all of one’s major needs: a grocery store, health care facility, educational institutions, et cetera, by foot or public transit within twenty minutes. One of the most meaningful questions a participant asked was, “who is doing the walking?” The question gets to the heart of the equity work of FRESC and Mile High Connects: making sure that transit improves the lives of all types of people. 

As a key member of the Mile High Connects steering committee, FRESC has been instrumental in advocating for good jobs and strong communities within the transit context. The policy, strategy, and organizing expertise that FRESC provides helps guide much of the jobs, health, and housing work that Mile High Connects is beginning to unfold. Together with Mile High Connects, FRESC is helping residents and leaders of the Denver region see that transit provides access to an opportunity that goes far beyond the transit lines themselves. 

The combined costs of transportation and housing consume more than 60% of the household income for low to moderate income families. FRESC is working with other partners from Mile High Connects to help locate affordable housing near transit ensures equitable access for low and moderate-income workers and families and makes it easier for them to pay monthly housing and transportation costs.

Research for the Mile High Connects Equity Atlas, a visual representation of demographics, education, employment, health care, and housing in relation to transit, showed that jobs for low and middle skilled workers were often far from where these workers live. FRESC is the Co-Chair of the Mile High Connects Jobs Working Groups which explores innovative ways that local governments, the transit authority, non-profits, and employers can better connect workers to good jobs throughout the region. This work grows out of FRESC’s construction careers campaign to leverage public construction contracts to raise job standards and link those with barriers to employment with lifelong careers. Mile High Connects hopes to advance job quality and access in other industries located near transit. 

Transit has the unique ability to shape our communities by affecting the way we get around, the kinds of jobs and services that workers and families have access to, and the effect we have on our environment. FRESC is proud to be helping metro Denver strategically create the transit-oriented communities that provide opportunities for low income individuals and people of color.