The conversation shared below was part of the YIMBYtown 2022 conference, cohosted by Sightline Institute and Portland: Neighbors Welcome.*

What do advocates for fair and abundant housing have in common with advocates for fair and abundant transportation, and how can they better collaborate to advocate for the neighborhoods we want? Four practitioners, advocates, and organizers break down why land use and transportation are so intertwined and what that means for the work ahead. 

  • Alex Baca, DC Policy Director with Greater Greater Washington, talks about the need for transportation to connect the dots of housing, and that pro-housing rhetoric must consider the realities of how people move between places. 
  • Alex Contreras, founder of Happy City Coalition, stresses the importance of talking about housing and transportation through an anti-racist lens and explores how we must undo decades of housing and transit policy that has predominantly affected Black and Latinx communities. 
  • Amy Stelly, co-founder of Claiborne Avenue Alliance, shares how transit in New Orleans post-Katrina has declined and become a bad word, and how highways have greatly (and mostly) impacted neighborhoods of color. New Orleans is realizing that it’s more important than ever for transportation and housing advocates to work together. 
  • Jarrett Walker, president of Jarrett Walker + Associates, believes that we don’t need to change the culture around transit but rather change people’s situation by creating bus lines that are abundant, clean, and decent and therefore useful. He notes that the focus needs to shift from charismatic density to scale, because if transit—like housing—doesn’t scale, it doesn’t matter. 
  • Michael Andersen, senior housing researcher and transportation lead at Sightline Institute, moderates the session and the Q&A. Topics include how opportunistic coalitions in transportation and in housing have changed and will continue to change in their lifetime, and how we can help local decision makers, neighborhood associations, and other invested groups think about the big picture when it comes to making structural decisions. 


*YIMBYtown 2022 occurred April 11–13 in Portland, Oregon, the fourth annual gathering (after some COVID delays) of “Yes in My Back Yard” (YIMBY) community leaders, organizers, planners, policymakers, educators, and housing providers eager to share resources and strategies for building more affordable, sustainable, and equitable communities.