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PD&R’s online magazine, The Edge, provides you with a snapshot view of our newly released research, periodicals, publications, news, and commentaries on housing and urban development issues. Stay informed on current topics and check back frequently, as our content is routinely updated.
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Applications of Emerging Digital Technology in Furthering Fair and Equitable Housing

As in many domains, digital technology is changing practices and possibilities in urban planning and development. A symposium held in March 2022 at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies explored the potential of digitized modeling and assessment tools to influence policy goals such as equitable development, fair housing, community engagement, and the overall planning process. Within this range of topics, panelists underscored a fundamental truth about technology, digital or otherwise: that the effects of technology reflect the values and biases of its designers and users, thus requiring oversight and shared standards to ensure equitable outcomes.

New on The Edge

Message from PD&R Leadership:
Tenant Screening With Criminal Background Checks: Predictions And Perceptions Are Not Causality
In the leadership message, PD&R’s deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Monitoring Calvin Johnson discusses the use of criminal background checks during tenant screening processes. Information about past criminal history is not always an accurate predictor of housing success. Historically, criminal background checks conducted by housing providers disproportionately screen out people of color. Johnson highlights how refined screening tools can add context to an applicant’s record and ensure equitable access to housing and services.

Housing Affordability in Transit-Oriented Developments
Transit-oriented developments (TODs) lower transportation costs by providing households with the option of public transit over car ownership, but this benefit leads to higher rents that can exclude low-income households who are more likely to use and rely on public transit. In February 2022, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities held a webinar titled “Is Transit Oriented Development Affordable for Low- and Moderate-Income Households?” Researchers from the University of Utah presented data on designated and naturally affordable housing found in TODs and the policy mechanisms that create housing for low- and moderate-income households in TODs.

In Practice:
Affordable Housing and Affordable Transit at Aspen Place
Opened in 2019 in the EcoVillage section of Cleveland, Ohio’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, Aspen Place is an affordable 40-unit apartment building. The transit-oriented development is located immediately adjacent to a Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) rapid transit station, is served by an RTA bus line, and has 25 bicycle storage spaces. To further enhance affordability, developer Northwest Neighborhoods CDC purchases bulk transit passes for residents each month. Demonstrating its commitment to environmental sustainability, Aspen Place also incorporates green building materials, water-saving fixtures, and energy-efficient systems.

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