What makes a great neighborhood? It depends on who you ask. In a multi-part analysis of the Washington, D.C. housing market, The Washington Post asked nearly 800 millennials (generally those between the ages of 22-34) about their neighborhood preferences. In Washington, this much sought after demographic has swelled the population by nearly 23,000 between 2000 and 2010. All other age groups combined accounted for further growth of 6,681 residents in the same period. Earning a median income of $44,460, well above the national median of $27,025 for all U.S. metro areas, this group is a welcome asset in any city.
But why do millennials, or any other demographic subgroup, choose one city over another or one neighborhood over another? Several factors that are consistent across many research studies include affordable housing, safe and walkable streets, access to employment and mobility networks, options for entertainment and recreation, and the often intangible characteristic known as buzz.
Baltimore, a large and distinctive city in its own right, is linked by simple geography to Washington, D.C. The outer edges of the two cities are only 30 miles apart and are connected by extensive road and rail networks. Baltimore city leaders have set a goal to attract 10,000 new families (some 22,000 individuals) by 2021.
In addition to place-based strategies targeting downtown and neighborhoods, the city is seeking young knowledge workers and demonstrating its openness to immigrants (demonstrated in the Mayor’s Executive Order of March 2012) on issues of public safety and access to city services for all residents regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status or English language facility). Extensive investments in education and new school construction are designed to lure families with children. Similar to Washington, it is the character of neighborhoods – solid housing stock, parks and open space, proximity to jobs and entertainment – that will have a significant influence on whether or not Baltimore can achieve that ambitious goal.
Read the rest of the case study...