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Wednesday August 21st 2019

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What’s Happening on the Hill, By the Numbers


The recent 2010 U.S. Census data tell an interesting story about how University Hill has changed over the years.

One way to look at it is to follow the population counts in Census Tract 124.  This area is the focus of many of the discussions the University Hill Neighborhood Association has had over the years: traffic, teen and twenties parties, commercial development, multi-unit housing, etc.

Boundaries of Census Tract 124

The total human population of this Census Tract over the last 30 years has been fairly steady:

Population time series

But this hides some significant changes in the composition of people and households in the Tract.  The majority of residents in this census tract are between the ages of 18 and 29:

When we look at this profile over time a very important trend shows up:

The 25 to 34 age group declines by 1000, and the 20-22 year cohort expands by a like amount.  We can see this a bit more clearly with a bar graph on larger age cohorts:

This change has had profound effects on the social dynamic of the Hill.  The 25 to 34 age group provided a social bridge between the college aged population and the other households and businesses on the Hill.  These are the folks who provided adult supervision and helped train each new batch of 18 to 20 year olds that move into our neighborhood.  The police cannot do this. There are not enough of them and they have many other responsibilities. It takes thousands of day-to-day interactions.

A solution to much of the town/gown animosity on the Hill is to bring more of this important 25-34 age group into housing in our neighborhood.  This can be done with more owner-occupied, multi-unit housing, and accessory dwelling units attached to owner-occupied houses.  The owner-occupied characteristic of this housing allows the more careful selection of tenants and shared housing behavior arrangements.

But such a change will take years. In the meantime, long term residents on the Hill should reach out to our college aged neighbors.  Introduce yourself, send the more savvy to take names.  I do a trash pick-up hike on my four blocks every Monday and meet folks. Find out who the landlords are and who manages the leases.  And give the under-25 year olds some patience.  Their education in all manner of skills is one of the most important things happening. We all play an important role in this.  We are the village.

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