Urban Institute published an updated evaluation of the Pro Neighborhoods Purple Line Collaborative that summarizes activities from November 2020 to September 2021 in the second year of a grant that provides targeted loan capital, technical assistance, and supports for projects related to affordable housing and small-business preservation and expansion. In 2019, JPMorgan Chase awarded a $5 million PRO Neighborhoods (Partnerships for Raising Opportunities in Neighborhoods) grant to the Purple Line Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Collaborative (the Purple Line Collaborative). The Purple Line Collaborative comprises three community development financial institutions (CDFIs): Enterprise Community Partners, with support from the Enterprise Community Loan Fund; the National Housing Trust; and the Latino Economic Development Center. The award is a three-year commitment to expand access to economic opportunity for residents and small business owners along the 16-mile Purple Line light rail corridor in the greater Washington, DC, region. Investments from the PRO Neighborhoods grant are targeted toward three key areas along the Purple Line—the International Corridor, Riverdale/New Carrollton, and Silver Spring. According to the report, each geographic region was selected because they share a higher concentration of nonwhite households, median household incomes of less than $70,000, larger stocks of naturally occurring affordable housing, and higher rates of unemployment than the national average.
This year’s report addresses five main research questions:
- How have the CDFIs adjusted to the ongoing pandemic and delays in Purple Line construction?
- How and to what extent does the Purple Line Collaborative meet the annual goals of preserving and expanding affordable housing in the target area through financing and development?
- How and to what extent does the Purple Line Collaborative meet the annual goals of preserving and expanding small businesses in the target area through financing and technical assistance?
- How and to what extent does the Purple Line Collaborative preserve and expand affordable housing and small businesses in the target area through partnerships, policy, and community engagement?
- What major equity issues have the partners identified in the Purple Line corridor? How will the partners’ planned activities affect equity in the area?
- Despite disruptions in development timelines and pipelines, the Purple Line Collaborative accomplished several objectives to preserve affordable housing and small businesses along the transit corridor.
- The CDFIs focused on expanding partnerships, identifying lending opportunities, and supporting affordable housing after the COVID-19 pandemic changed priorities in year 1.
- The CDFIs acknowledged the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic as well as the equity challenges that arose. They made progress in embedding equity into their work, with a focus on supporting the predominantly Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and immigrant populations in the region.
Year 3 of the PRO Neighborhoods grant will require continued innovation to address both the programmatic and systemic barriers to equitable development in the Purple Line corridor.