MORE THAN 250,000 individuals and families live in affordable apartments within one-half mile of public transportation in 20 major metropolitan areas, but more than two-thirds of the federal subsidies that keep these units affordable will expire within the next five years, according to a new study.

This is a huge concern because once the contracts for the subsidies expire, housing owners can convert the apartments to market-rate housing. The study notes that these apartments will also feel pressure from a renewed popularity in urban living and growing support among planners for new transitoriented development.

To identify how many families, especially older people, are at risk of losing their affordable homes, AARP, Reconnecting America, and the National Housing Trust recently mapped the locations of subsidized apartments and transportation in America's top cities.

Nearly a quarter of the total subsidized housing within a half-mile of transit, about 60,000 units, was developed through the Secs. 202 and 811 supportive- housing programs. Those units mostly serve persons 62 and older.

“The findings of this study are especially alarming because research shows that families living near public transportation save an average of 16 percent on their household transportation costs, which means that this affordable housing is made even more affordable because of its location near transit,” says John Robert Smith, president and CEO of Reconnecting America, a national nonprofit that promotes development near public transportation.

The report urges the federal government to fully fund the project-based Sec. 8 program and to provide adequate funding for the Sec. 202 program.

It also recommends that state housing finance agencies allocate resources toward preserving affordable housing in transit-rich neighborhoods.

Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities: Subsidized Housing Opportunities Near Transit and the 50+ Population can be found at