The real challenge for cities: Will the Young Families Stay?

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The real challenge for cities: Will the Young Families Stay?
© Linda Davidson / The Washington Post
The real challenge for cities: Will the Young Families Stay?
© Linda Davidson / The Washington Post

Planners in D.C. and other cities have had much success luring young professionals to urban neighborhoods, so much so that a prominent question among economists and housing analysts is whether all the millennials who moved to cities will stay once they have children.

Previous generations mostly moved to the suburbs, and there is evidence that many millennials also want to live in suburban single-family homes, even if they live in cities right now. Picket fence and all.

In D.C., as the population grew in recent years the percentage of children dropped. In 1980, 22 percent of District residents were children. By 2010 it was 17 percent.

But in urban planning circles, there is a burgeoning movement to figure out how to better accommodate young families before they depart.

The issue was the subject of a panel discussion in Washington last week in Washington hosted by the Urban Land Institute, an industry group, featuring architectural and former Seattle planning commissioner Sarah Snider Komppa.

Komppa grew up being driven around in the suburbs, which she found somewhat unfulfilling. “You’re shuttled from one place where everyone is the same as you to another place where everyone is the same as you,” she said. []

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