Background on the Equity Tool

What is the Equity Tool?

The Equity Tool will guide the use of anti-displacement funding to benefit people most at risk of displacement from transit investments. When completed, the tool will help community members and decision-makers do two things: 1) look at how transit investments may impact people at risk of displacement, and 2) direct nearly $300 million to programs and projects that help vulnerable people most impacted by displacement living close to transit lines.

The Equity Tool is a part of Project Connect, a citywide rapid transit system that will include light rail, expanded bus service, new Park & Ride facilities, and new neighborhood circulators. $7.1 billion in federal and local funds will be invested to build the system over the next 13 years.

Why is the Equity Tool needed?

Transit investments can provide benefits to communities, but these improvements can also raise property values and spark new development. Both of these changes can increase property taxes and rents. Low-income families, renters, and other vulnerable groups who can’t afford higher housing costs may be forced to move. To avoid this negative impact, voters approved $300 million for displacement prevention alongside funds for Project Connect in the November 2020 election. The Equity Tool will inform how the $300 million should be spent.

What is Project Connect?

Capital Metro’s Project Connect is a 20-year expansion of the region’s public transit system. On November 3, 2020 City of Austin voters approved an increase in the City’s property tax rate to fund a portion of the initial investment. Federal funding is anticipated to provide approximately 45% of the estimated $7.1 billion capital cost. The initial investment will include:

  • A new and expanded rail system: Two new light rail lines, one new commuter line, and expanded service on the existing commuter rail.

  • A downtown transit tunnel: An underground tunnel to increase speed and safety through downtown.

  • Expanded bus service: 9 new Park & Rides, 4 new MetroRapid routes, 3 new MetroExpress routes and 15 new neighborhood circulator zones.

  • Anti-displacement Investments: $300 million to help prevent residents from being displaced from their neighborhoods as transit expands.

Established as an independent organization, the Austin Transit Partnership (ATP) will guide the Project Connect investment with transparency and accountability throughout the program.