case western reserve university



April 30, 2012

Plain Dealer: Youth Movement Grows Cleveland's Inner Core


Downtown Cleveland and the surrounding neighborhoods are growing faster than the outer ring of the City and the rest of Cuyahoga County for the first time in recent history, as reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer article "Cleveland's inner city is growing faster than its suburbs as young adults flock downtown" on April 27, 2012. This growth is largely attributed to young professionals moving into the core of the Cleveland area.

Poverty Center research assistant Richey Piiparinen was interviewed for the recently published study "Not Dead Yet: The Infill of Cleveland's Urban Core" in the Urban Institute's Metrotrends and the Poverty Center's Briefly Stated report.

Piiparinen believes it's not just the new casino or medical mart responsible for the growth. "It's a youth movement," he said. "This could be a huge thing." The largest shares of current residents of the central neighborhoods are between the ages of 21 and 34. Many grew up in a suburban neighborhood in Northeast Ohio but upon reaching adulthood chose to move to Cleveland's core. "Do we have a generation that's really doing the opposite of its parents, going back to the center? It's the creative class. They're more entrepreneurial. They're mobile. They're more educated than their parents."

However, data shows that many are leaving for other neighborhoods once they get older, often when they begin families with children. "The exodus of the child-rearing age group may neutralize the gain made with the young," Piiparinen warns and suggests Cleveland increase its Downtown amenities such as quality elementary schools and safer streets to encourage young families to stay.

Piiparinen studied a 70-year trendline of the central neighborhoods, finding a contrast to the more family orientated communities in that outer ring which have decreased in population. The region's inner city stabilized in 1960 and has trended steadily upward since. This trend has spilled over into communities neighboring Downtown such as Tremont, Ohio City, and Asiatown. Piiparinen believes this is happening because Downtown continues to be an attractive draw, but a tight rental housing market means some are having to look elsewhere while wanting to remain close.

Additional coverage of this story was in The Solon on May 12 and in The USA Today on May 15, 2012. During the Convocation of Cleveland State University on May 12, University President Ronald M. Berkman referenced the Plain Dealer article. The Atlantic Cities also covered the original Metrotrends report.

Download the report here in PDF.

The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, is a research center at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, a graduate school of social work at Case Western Reserve University.