But Westchester’s Cities Are Attracting the YPs as the WCA Drives Efforts to Reverse the ‘Brain Drain’ in Westchester County
According to a report released by Alexander Roberts, executive director of Community Housing Innovations, young people are leaving some of the wealthy towns in Long Island and Westchester County in droves. The fair housing advocacy group found that villages and towns with the “most expensive housing in the least diverse communities” have seen a drop in the population of 25-34-year-olds since the year 2000. Yet Roberts also points out that other parts of Westchester have experienced...
...much smaller declines, and in some cities—White Plains, for example—have seen increases in this population.
Amy Allen, the WCA’s director of advocacy and international business, said it wasn’t all bad news. “Overall, Westchester County had an average of 14 percent loss in this age group, so we did a little better than parts of Long Island. While the report points out that young people need affordable housing, it ignores the fact that young people also want vibrant places to live, with access to public transportation, and after-work recreation. The WCA is driving efforts to increase those options in places where it makes sense in Westchester.”
Since launching the BLUEPRINT for Westchester, the WCA’s aggressive economic development campaign, the WCA has advocated transforming the county into a place where young professionals can Work.Live.Play. The BLUEPRINT also has campaigned for changes in municipal zoning that allow for mixed use development. “We have seen great results in Harrison and White Plains,” Allen said. The WCA has also forged public-private partnerships between higher education and the private sector to keep the young, educated talent pool in Westchester, and created the BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network, encouraging young companies to begin businesses and keep them here as they grow.
In his report, Roberts cites studies about Millennials (those born 1978-1996) which indicate “they prefer lively urban environments to suburbs, rental housing, and are more comfortable with diversity,” and goes on to say the “development of vibrant downtowns, acceptance of diversity, and affordable housing appear critical for Long Island and Westchester to remain competitive for the young adult workforce.”
We agree—where it makes sense. “Creating multi-family units in rural towns with limited infrastructure capacity, isn’t our focus,” Allen said. “Through our BLUEPRINT for Westchester, we are driving initiatives that are targeted, realistic, and achievable.”