What Do Americans Want Out of Their Neighborhoods?

What Do Americans Want Out of Their Neighborhoods?

The latest poll from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), released in late October, focused on Americans’ housing and community preferences.  It seems that Americans prefer mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods over subdivisions that require driving as the main source of transportation when they have a choice.

Robert Steuteville points out in his Better! Cities and Towns article that Americans choose their housing based on “trade-offs on many factors, many of them conflicting.” These factors include short commutes, easy access to goods and services, public transportation close to their home, and access to arts and recreational facilities.

According to Kaid Benfield from The Atlantic Cities,a majority of respondents to the survey would most like to live in suburban neighborhoods. In addition, a majority of those who choose suburban living prefer to have “a mix of houses, shops and businesses” in the suburban community. However, Americans still choose to live in a single-family, detached home with a large yard. This is why coming up with one consistent message from this research is impossible. There is evidence that Americans prefer accessibility, walkability, large yards, and even the ability to travel by car but as Benfield states, “is it possible to have all that in the same community?” Perhaps by creating a community that offers many different lifestyle choices for residents is crucial to be a successful and sustainable community.

For the White Flint area, the Sector Plan is designed around the preferences of local residents and community development practitioners, similar to those expressed in the NAR survey. This is why mixed-use developments and a walkable street design are major components of the White Flint Sector Plan. The Plan will allow for residents to have more choice in the lives they live, since it seems this is the only way for White Flint to be a sustainable community.

Check out Steuteville’s full article and Benfield’s full article.

Rebecca Hertz

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Rebecca Hertz is the Assistant Executive Director of Friends of White Flint. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in International Development and Social Change from Clark University, Worcester Massachusetts in 2012. She completed her Master’s Degree from Clark University, as well, in Community Development and Planning in 2013. She is interested in how built environments impact the health and growth of communities. Prior to this role, she worked as a youth worker and mentor for several non-profit organizations in Maryland and Massachusetts. She grew up in Rockville, MD and has recently moved back to the region.

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