ULI to Use National Survey to Help Local Leaders Better Understand Resident Preferences, Build Better Communities with $75,000 from Knight Foundation


ULI District Councils in Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit; Philadelphia; and San Jose, Calif., to host programs to inform community decision-making

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 30, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global research and education institute dedicated to leadership in land use, is launching a new initiative to help four U.S. cities – Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit, Philadelphia and San Jose, Calif. – better understand what people value in their communities in order to build more livable, successful cities. The initiative will connect the national results of ULI’s biannual survey of consumers regarding housing, transportation and communities to local data and regional trends for each of the cities to help them plan for the future. It is funded by $75,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The ULI’s Terwilliger Center for Housing and its Building Healthy Places Initiative recently released “America in 2015,” a nationwide survey of U.S. adults focusing on several aspects of how and where people live, including the most desired features for communities and neighborhoods, access to community amenities and transportation options, and overall satisfaction with communities and housing. Among the findings in the report: Many Americans face significant community design-related barriers to living a healthy life. A large number of people, particularly minorities and millennials, report living in areas that lack easy access to safe places for outdoor physical activity, active transportation systems such as bike lanes, and healthy food options.

Through the initiative, ULI District Councils serving Charlotte, Detroit, Philadelphia and San Jose – all cities where Knight invests – will host programs that combine a presentation of the national report with a panel of local land use experts who will discuss the implications of the report, along with relevant local information for future development and community growth in the area. The local programs may be followed by additional District Council programs to further engage the residents in solution-building around the findings of “America in 2015.” The goal is to foster design and development decisions that result in healthier, safer and more diverse communities with multi-generational appeal.

“The generous support from Knight Foundation will help us use the findings from America in 2015 to raise local awareness of how urban design and development affect people’s day-to-day lives. Through the programs made possible by this support, we are seeking to improve community building to better meet the needs and preferences of all residents,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “We anticipate an active dialogue on community livability resulting from each program, and we look forward to sharing the knowledge for the benefit of other communities.”

“It’s clear that, when it comes to planning and designing our communities, market preferences are changing. And since the most mobile, educated Americans are first choosing the places they want to live and then choosing a job, it is critical that leaders understand these changing preferences,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. “This survey offers insights into how cities can remain competitive in this new landscape and introduce urban amenities, transportation and housing that meet the needs of people, especially young workers, who are increasingly moving to cities.”

Based on the survey findings and local research, panel discussions may focus on these issues:

While most Americans are satisfied with their communities and housing, there are pockets of dissatisfaction among several groups. What can be done to address this?
Many people say that they do not have access to places that make exercising and access to healthy food easy, and about a quarter say that their neighborhoods are not safe to walk in due to crime or traffic. How can communities change these results?
Most Americans prefer communities that are rich in cultural diversity and home to a variety of ages. How can communities embrace diversity?
As the economy improves, large numbers of Americans say they will move in the next five years. How can communities use jobs and affordable housing to attract residents?
Support for ULI is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to invest in civic innovators who help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement. The foundation believes that designing places to achieve these goals is crucial to city success.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (uli.org) is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 35,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. knightfoundation.org

Trisha Riggs at 202-624-7086

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