What a difference a few months make! The news about young people leaving Westchester County’s wealthiest towns in droves, released in a report by Community Housing Innovations last February, has improved. According to a recent analysis of the latest U.S. Census Data, several Westchester towns saw a reduction in the numbers of 25- to 34-year-olds exiting their communities, and some revealed gains. The latest data were presented at recent event at Purchase College, SUNY, by Alexander Roberts, the executive director of the affordable housing advocacy group, who said communities with less expensive housing have shown better results.
The Town of Rye saw the decline reduced from 63 percent in 2011 to 56 percent in 2012; Scarsdale also mitigated its losses, from 52 percent in 2011 to 42 percent in 2012. Peekskill and White Plains showed 12 percent and 5 percent increases over 2000, according to a Westchester County Business Journal report. The outlook isn't rosy everywhere, however. Bronxville and Pound Ridge—two of Westchester's wealthiest towns—saw a rise in their losses, from 23 to 46 percent and 58 to 63 percent, respectively.
“We're making some progress," said Marissa Brett, president of the Westchester County Association. “We are seeing more affordable housing and mixed-use projects approved, and we hope those numbers will continue to rise throughout Westchester County. We’ve long advocated for this kind of development, which will reverse the suburban brain drain.”
Brett cited a $29 million, 81-unit apartment complex in Elmsford marketed for professionals and recently backed by the IDA
as one example of the kind of housing that will attract young professionals to Westchester—convenient to highways, with modern amenities. She also noted several other affordable housing projects underway in Yonkers, a city making progress on creating a walkable downtown and riverfront area, with places to socialize, shop, and be entertained.
Alexander Roberts attributed the exodus of young people in Westchester and on Long Island to the “increasing cost of houses and the resistance by localities to building apartment buildings with modest rentals,” according to a New York Times story,
which cited Westbury, NY—where developers built an arts performance space plus 850 apartments near its train station—as an example of a suburb “working hard on keeping its young people.”
“From apartments, to condos and co-ops, to smaller homes, we must provide a variety of housing options within the reach of a variety of incomes,” said Brett. “There’s more work to be done on improving zoning rules and regulations to make way for smart development.”