Sound Transit 3, approved by voters in November, authorized expanding Link light rail to 116 miles and additional bus rapid transit. But because it can get expensive to live near transit, right as the measure was approved, nonprofit Enterprise Community Loan Fund created the Regional Equitable Development Initiative (REDI), which commits $21 million to low-interest loans for affordable developments located near transit.
Today, the fund announced the first of those projects: a $4 million loan to Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) to build a mixed-income development in Tacoma’s West End. THA also secured a $2 million loan from the state to acquire the seven-acre site, which they’re calling James Center North.
The project will have at least 150 affordable units out of 300 to 500 homes. The first round of REDI financing is expected to build 500 to 700 affordable units total.
“Near transit,” for REDI purposes, means sited within one-half mile of a light rail station or one-quarter mile of a frequent-service bus stop. In this case, the project is located across the street from the Tacoma Community College (TCC) and the nearby transit center, which currently features intercity bus service and will eventually become Sound Transit’s southernmost light rail stop.
THA and TCC were already working together on a pilot program that provides rental assistance vouchers to enrolled homeless students and their families. The assisted students were four times more likely after two years to remain enrolled or graduate. They’ll be expanding the program soon, and are expecting the new development to play a large role.
Projects built with REDI loans, in addition to being built near transit, are required to include units affordable to households at or below 80 percent of area median income (AMI) or 20 percent below market rent. For sites acquired with REDI funds, like James Center North, at least 25 percent of all units must be affordable to people at or below 50 percent AMI.
This article has been updated to clarify the relationship between REDI and Sound Transit.