“Buffalo Niagara now and in the future will look radically different from the region of the last 60 years…”
As the region continues to age and diversify, actions taken now to accommodate demographic change and promote equity and opportunity will have a profound impact on the success of the region for decades to come.
Change has not always come easy to Buffalo Niagara. For more than a generation, the only large scale change the region knew was negative: the deep hardship caused by the onset of industrial decline and a dramatic loss of residents as a result.
However, change is once again coming to the region – this time creating new opportunities for individuals and communities alike.
Neighborhoods, municipalities, non-profits and developers, however, will have to change they way they have done business in order to benefit from these new realities.
For instance,”though only 28% of single-family homes in Buffalo-Niagara are now occupied by families with children, 75% of all building permits issued in the region from 2000-2010 were for single-family homes. This proliferation of a housing stock not necessarily reflective of the current or future population’s needs may have profound implications for the housing market and for communities that do not have diversified residences for new household types and for shifting resident needs across their lifespan.” Market trends suggest a large shift in the preferences of younger adults. The millennial generation now represents a large and growing segment of the home buying and renting population and across the country. This cohort is driving less and seeking walkable, bikeable neighborhoods with amenities close at hand. At the same time, Buffalo Niagara is diversifying, with more people of color in the region offsetting a substantial decrease in white population. This increase is both domestic and foreign born. Communities that have become stressed by decline can find new opportunities for revitalization in this changing population, if steps are taken now to anticipate, accommodate and welcome these residents with open arms.
Complete Communities Strategies:
A. Develop a housing toolbox for municipalities, developers, non-profits and residents who need models and precedents for designing and producing sustainable housing types and neighborhoods.
B. Deploy new housing models to meet the changing needs and preferences of residents. This would include housing tailored to the needs or preferences of senior citizens, the disabled, artists, immigrants, students, young professionals, empty-nesters, and others.
C. Relieve regulatory roadblocks to housing innovation. In many cases zoning codes or other housing regulations may need to be amended to allow some new types of housing or forms of tenure.
The full Complete Communities for a Changing Region report is available here.