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Old 06-17-2014, 02:33 PM
 
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As to the question "will families live in cities"? Here is the thing - as a percentage, the number of children may be lower. But my zipcode has more children per square mile than any zipcode in the Boston area, including all suburbs inside of the 128 belt. So, they are already living there - in quite high concentrations, even if not as a percentage of population. We have five households with children within a 75 ft radius if our house. In some suburbs here, that radius is just your own yard!
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Old 06-17-2014, 11:14 PM
 
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Schools will be most people's #1 priority.

You mentioned that the number of middle-school age children declined. That strongly implies a situation where families are comfortable with the local elementary school, which often only serves the immediate neighborhood, but when it comes to middle and high schools, which have a larger zone and can also be city-wide, there's a vote of no-confidence and a move to the suburbs.

It's not unique to Washington. Baltimore has similar neighborhoods where people are comfortable with the elementary schools but when 6th grade comes a long it's either private schools or a move to the suburbs. You'll find this same set up in cities all over America.

Once gentrification of a neighborhood takes off, especially gentrifying an existing white neighborhood, it's easier for upwardly mobile young families to build up a critical mass in the local elementary schools that they come to dominate the school and as such, feel comfortable using it for their children. But it's much harder to build that critical mass on the middle school level where the school zone becomes much bigger, and likewise for high school.

I can't tell you how to break the barrier from elementary to middle schools other than a radical change in the citywide demographics. Despite Washington's growing population and affluence, the city school system is still very poor and underfunded and it's difficult to compete against the suburban powerhouse districts. Even though Washington's population has grown and it's no longer a majority African American city, the rising non-white population is still tipped towards singles, young people, DINKs and empty nesters, who are not sending children to local schools, leaving the Washington schools heavily African American and poor. According to Wiki, in 2012 African American consisted of 42% of Washington's population, but 72% of the school enrollment.

It's schools, more than anything else, that does hamper cities' abilities to attract large numbers of new families.



Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
I used specific areas of Washington, DC I'm familiar with to challenge this very assumption. A lot of people say, "Oh, when these neighborhoods gentrify, the 20-somethings will stay and improve the schools and families will flourish." Well, when it comes to DC, we certainly don't see that in the data. Tenleytown, the first neighborhood I mentioned, wasn't that wealthy in the late 80s/early 90s. It was always white, however. In the last 25 years or so, the single people keep moving in, but the number of older children never rises. In Tract 12 specifically, the number of children between the ages of 10 and 17 declined from 173 in 2000 to 116 in 2012.

It could be argued that this new generation of Millennials is exceptional and needs time to populate these neighborhoods with kids. After all, a child born to Millennial parents in 2009 would only be only be 4 or 5, and therefore not yet part of the 10 to 17 age bracket that will undoubtedly continue to expand as Millennials settle down (right). The big problem I see with this theory is that many DC neighborhoods have been gentrified for years (i.e., Woodley Park, Tenleytown, Cleveland Park, Dupont Circle), have solid schools (Janney, Murch, Lafayette, Deal), and yet the number of middle-school age children continues to decline.

If the first 20 years of gentrification do the trick, do you think the next 20 will? What's so different about the white people currently living in these neighborhoods than the white people who lived there in 1995? The trend in DC for at least 25 years has been growth in the the 9 and under population with stagnation or decline in the over 10 population. What basis do we have to believe that that's going to change over the next 10 years?
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:09 PM
 
56,737 posts, read 81,038,544 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallybalt View Post
Schools will be most people's #1 priority.

You mentioned that the number of middle-school age children declined. That strongly implies a situation where families are comfortable with the local elementary school, which often only serves the immediate neighborhood, but when it comes to middle and high schools, which have a larger zone and can also be city-wide, there's a vote of no-confidence and a move to the suburbs.

It's not unique to Washington. Baltimore has similar neighborhoods where people are comfortable with the elementary schools but when 6th grade comes a long it's either private schools or a move to the suburbs. You'll find this same set up in cities all over America.

Once gentrification of a neighborhood takes off, especially gentrifying an existing white neighborhood, it's easier for upwardly mobile young families to build up a critical mass in the local elementary schools that they come to dominate the school and as such, feel comfortable using it for their children. But it's much harder to build that critical mass on the middle school level where the school zone becomes much bigger, and likewise for high school.

I can't tell you how to break the barrier from elementary to middle schools other than a radical change in the citywide demographics. Despite Washington's growing population and affluence, the city school system is still very poor and underfunded and it's difficult to compete against the suburban powerhouse districts. Even though Washington's population has grown and it's no longer a majority African American city, the rising non-white population is still tipped towards singles, young people, DINKs and empty nesters, who are not sending children to local schools, leaving the Washington schools heavily African American and poor. According to Wiki, in 2012 African American consisted of 42% of Washington's population, but 72% of the school enrollment.

It's schools, more than anything else, that does hamper cities' abilities to attract large numbers of new families.
I also wonder if there are enough other options, whether magnet, private, charter or even homeschooling, that these families could choose from, they would stay. Some may be going the private route anyway and feel that they can stay in the city. So, it may be a matter of the route they determine and the choices available in terms of schooling down the line.

I know of parents that go with the public city schools all the way through and do fine. So, it may even be as simple of taking advantage of things in terms of the schooling, as long as the environment is suitable enough. Where I live there is one urban public HS that in spite of its general stats, still seems to always have a valedictorian that goes to an Ivy League school and other top tier students going to similar to solid private or state/public colleges/universities.
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:31 PM
 
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Read an article in today's WSJ that spoke about why housing/home construction still hasn't recovered to pre-recession levels and may never do so.

Long story short while are financial barriers and or other economic problems that keep certain segments from the market from buying a home, there is another large reason; the decline in marriage rates and fertility.

Despite all the noise about "gay marriage", overall marriage rates in United States have been on the decline for decades. Those unions which tend to occur have high divorce rates and or are happening later in life than previous generations. Fertility rates in many demographics are declining as well, with married couples choosing to limit the size of their families that is if they have children at all.

All this leads up to changes in what many consider the American dream. For our parents and grandparents that meant a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence and lawns. Today's young persons and or families are less interested in owing a home like that than living close to or in urban areas. They are willing to therefore make certain choices such as perhaps smaller homes/properties in order to do so.

Here in NYC you cannot get away from families with children. Am not speaking of just the outer boroughs such as Staten Island that have always been family friendly, but right in Manhattan and west Brooklyn. Demand for "family sized" apartments (those with two, three or more bedrooms), town houses and brownstones far exceeds supply. The push for such suburban but urban living is behind much of the push into formerly no man's lands of Harlem, Fort Greene, Bedford Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, Red Hook and is pushing even already gentrified areas such as Park Slope higher. Families want to live in or near Manhattan and are looking for that "private home" space but in NYC.

Most upper middle and above classes tend to have smaller families. With one, two or maybe three children. Often the "extras" are results of IVF and or in the case of many gay families surrogates both of which can produce multiple babies per pregnancy. Sort of like twofers.

Long story short, yes families will live in cities and they are already. Their presence is changing the dynamics of what urban area living means and their influence will continue until or unless trend reverses.

White flight out of American cities for the most part has ceased and is reversing. Interestingly you not only have the children, grand children and great grandchildren of those who once fled cities for the suburbs moving back, but plenty of seniors are moving to cities as well.
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Old 06-18-2014, 10:34 PM
 
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Education choices are personal for most families.

The truth is that every city will have at least one good charter middle school program and at least one "elite" high school program that can provide a good to excellent education.

Why more people don't stick it out through the city's public sector does have to do with their comfort level with the public/charter options. A lot of it is perspective based, and some of it can be unfair/incorrect, but at the end of the day most parents prefer their children to be in an environment where their demographics constitute the majority of the students. That's very hard to find in the DC public sector once you move out of the zoned elementary schools into the middle and high school levels, but much easier to find in the suburbs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
I also wonder if there are enough other options, whether magnet, private, charter or even homeschooling, that these families could choose from, they would stay. Some may be going the private route anyway and feel that they can stay in the city. So, it may be a matter of the route they determine and the choices available in terms of schooling down the line.

I know of parents that go with the public city schools all the way through and do fine. So, it may even be as simple of taking advantage of things in terms of the schooling, as long as the environment is suitable enough. Where I live there is one urban public HS that in spite of its general stats, still seems to always have a valedictorian that goes to an Ivy League school and other top tier students going to similar to solid private or state/public colleges/universities.
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Old 06-18-2014, 11:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
Here in NYC you cannot get away from families with children. Am not speaking of just the outer boroughs such as Staten Island that have always been family friendly, but right in Manhattan and west Brooklyn. Demand for "family sized" apartments (those with two, three or more bedrooms), town houses and brownstones far exceeds supply. The push for such suburban but urban living is behind much of the push into formerly no man's lands of Harlem, Fort Greene, Bedford Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, Red Hook and is pushing even already gentrified areas such as Park Slope higher. Families want to live in or near Manhattan and are looking for that "private home" space but in NYC.

Most upper middle and above classes tend to have smaller families. With one, two or maybe three children. Often the "extras" are results of IVF and or in the case of many gay families surrogates both of which can produce multiple babies per pregnancy. Sort of like twofers.
I think for the most part the issue is precisely this, poor diversification in housing. Sure, we can hope for some change in attitude about the amount of space a normal family rightfully should need. As long as it's other families making the sacrifice. Put your own 4-year-old boy in the same bedroom as your infant girl. And make them grow up that way. Or spend 60% of your income on a 3 bedroom apartment. C'mon, for the sake of urbanity just "should" on yourself. It's vibrant.
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunjee View Post
I think for the most part the issue is precisely this, poor diversification in housing. Sure, we can hope for some change in attitude about the amount of space a normal family rightfully should need. As long as it's other families making the sacrifice. Put your own 4-year-old boy in the same bedroom as your infant girl. And make them grow up that way. Or spend 60% of your income on a 3 bedroom apartment. C'mon, for the sake of urbanity just "should" on yourself. It's vibrant.
Right now "family sized units" are the buzzword in NYC real estate, especially Manhattan and parts of West Brooklyn. Thing is historically much of Manhattan and elsewhere apartment stock is mainly studio's and one bedrooms. So landlords and developers are either combining older units to make larger apartments, or simply building them that way. Problem is that all costs money which means you can have two or more bedroom apartment but be prepared to pay dear. This is why you are hearing so much noise about "inclusive" and "affordable" housing for family sized apartments.

It isn't just the lower income households affected either. In NYC unless the household income is >100K per year their chances of finding an apartment with more than one bedroom becomes difficult.
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:49 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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It seems to me if you want to retain families in cities, the best way to do it would be with a direct cash payment.

Let's face it. In high cost cities, you can basically describe children as roommates who don't contribute rent. So if you're a family of four seeking a three-bedroom apartment, each parent is paying for 1.5 bedrooms. In contrast, three roommates seeking the same apartment are paying for only one bedroom each. And quite possibly, if one or more of them has a significant other (or maybe even, in extreme cases, if they don't) they'll share a bedroom and get costs even lower.

Anything which you do to improve the overall "family friendliness" of a city won't do much if you don't fix the cost question. Lower crime will raise rents. More amenities like parks will raise rents. Improving the local school system will raise rents, which paradoxically will mean less children, except for the really wealthy.

When it comes down to it, it's all about cost. As a parent in an expensive city you have to be willing to either live with a lower standard of living than your childless peers (e.g., be comparably broke, or comparably cramped), or relocate to a lower-cost, but less interesting neighborhood.

Direct subsidies get around this, because they provide parents with an additional source of funds to equalize the cost differential when compared to non parents. If crafted properly, they could eliminate the financial penalty (at least as far as rent is concerned) when having children in a high-cost urban area.

That said, the cost would add up quickly. Say you had a targeted portion of the city you wanted to retain children in. There are 3,000 children there, and you wish to offer $600 per month per child to parents. This adds up to $21.6 million. In a larger city this isn't a unreasonable sum to spend, but it's not like it's a rounding error in most city budgets either.

And ultimately, it comes back to the question of how badly cities actually want to retain families. Sad as it is to say (as an urban parent) cities come out much better in terms of finances with childless persons, as public education is a significant portion of any municipal budget.
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Old 06-19-2014, 03:09 PM
 
2,881 posts, read 4,620,368 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
Right now "family sized units" are the buzzword in NYC real estate, especially Manhattan and parts of West Brooklyn. Thing is historically much of Manhattan and elsewhere apartment stock is mainly studio's and one bedrooms. So landlords and developers are either combining older units to make larger apartments, or simply building them that way. Problem is that all costs money which means you can have two or more bedroom apartment but be prepared to pay dear. This is why you are hearing so much noise about "inclusive" and "affordable" housing for family sized apartments.

It isn't just the lower income households affected either. In NYC unless the household income is >100K per year their chances of finding an apartment with more than one bedroom becomes difficult.
It's funny how the opposite is happening in the suburbs, where housing diversity is geared toward building more single units because new graduates and childless professionals don't want SFHs. 'Burbs want to attract or retain these folks rather than lose the talent to more urban centers. I do think suburbs have a better shot at reaching the proper equilibrium.

But perhaps true balance is just a point on a timeline, not an intentional development itself. High value housing cannibalism is already in motion in cities, and building more family housing is not going to relieve the evolved disparities. Like physiological development we can't regress, at least in a healthy way, to recreate balance. I think family subsidies are artificial, inorganic, and yes ultimately unhealthy. Seems nothing is gonna crack this nut.

Let cities be what they are, and develop better suburbs with diverse lifestyle options. Until they evolve too and the cycle repeats.
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Old 06-19-2014, 03:45 PM
 
56,737 posts, read 81,038,544 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallybalt View Post
Education choices are personal for most families.

The truth is that every city will have at least one good charter middle school program and at least one "elite" high school program that can provide a good to excellent education.

Why more people don't stick it out through the city's public sector does have to do with their comfort level with the public/charter options. A lot of it is perspective based, and some of it can be unfair/incorrect, but at the end of the day most parents prefer their children to be in an environment where their demographics constitute the majority of the students. That's very hard to find in the DC public sector once you move out of the zoned elementary schools into the middle and high school levels, but much easier to find in the suburbs.
Actually, to show that the example where I live bucks the trend, that high school is about 55-60% Black, but can still have the children of college professors and staff. Some from that area of the city may send their children to private schools in an adjacent suburb with a similar character. So, it may depend on the family.

What's also interesting is that some of these families may decide to send their child to another HS that is about 70% Black, but has the city's only International Baccalaureate program in the city. When looking at the 4 year cohort for graduation rates, White students at this high school(about 20%) have the highest graduation rate in the city(about low 80's in terms of percentage). So, you never know.
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