Thursday, February 2, 2012

Where have all the young families in Howard County gone?

     I recently read a report from the Howard County Planning that shows the growth of the County is definitely slowing from the rapid growth we have experienced over the past four decades.  Starting with the development of Columbia in the late 1960's we have experienced an explosion of growth in our County.  In the 1970's we experienced a 92% growth rate, in the 1980's a 58% rate, in the 1990's a 32% rate and in this past decade a 16% growth rate.  You can see the trend.  Much of the development in our County in the next decade will be in the Route 1 corridor and Columbia Town Center.

       The report goes into the numbers in two ways that I have blogged on in the past---the aging of our population and the growing diversity of the population with the increase in foreign born individuals.  I was amazed at the growth in the 60-64 age segment of our population growing by 92% in 10 years, the 65-69 age growing by 89% and the 55-59 age group growing by 52%.  The Baby Boomers who moved into the County with the development of Columbia and raised their families have hit their golden years!

       On the other end of the age scale the under 5 age population declined by 5% and the 5 to 9 age group declined by 1%.  The other age cohort that declined was the 30-39 age group that declined by 18%.   What does this tell us?  Howard County might not have affordable housing for young families. The children who grew up in the County in the 1970's and 1980's and are now in their 30's may not be able to afford to live in the County.  I know that this is the story of my family and with my grown children (in the 30-39 age cohort) living outside the County. Most of my children have worked in the County at some point but have lived outside the County because of housing costs in the County.

      These population trends do indicate that affordable housing will continue to be an issue that will have to be addressed so that we are a place for young families to call home. 

News from the North Laurel Community Center
The first round of classes from the Howard County Financial Education Alliance has been finalized! Sessions include credit and borrowing and spending and budgeting. Participants may register for classes online at or by calling (410) 528-8006.

Don't forget, the North Laurel Community Center is also a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) site this year. Families and individuals may qualify to have their taxes prepared for free if they earned less than $50,000 in 2011 (less than $25,000 for single/individual taxpayers). Clients may have their taxes prepared on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday; click here for the Howard County VITA flier.

P.S. 2
Howard County Parks and Recreation Summer Camp registration catalog  is now available. Summer Camp ONLINE registration for Howard County residents ONLY begins Wed., Feb. 1 at 6 PM. County residents may register by all other methods (phone and walk-in, M-F, 8 AM – 4:30 PM) beginning on Thurs., Feb. 2. Out-of-County online registration begins Feb. 8 at 6 PM and by all other methods on Feb. 9.   


Run a Game said...

Young family here. Not high income. Ask me any questions you want about this topic.

duanestclair said...

Would love to talk more with you about how a young family manages in Howard County. Email me to talk further.

bosoxbrent said...

Interesting topic Duane. From my own personal house buying experience a few years ago (I was 32 at the time), I think that first time home owners were getting more bang for their buck on the outskirts of Howard County or over in Anne Arundel County. My wife and I just got lucky and picked up a very nice house in an awesome neighborhood in Elkridge when we were buying. From what I saw in Columbia at that time, the same type of house (4 bed / 3.5 bath) was well outside of our price range. So these numbers really do not surprise me.

I think we are also seeing a trend where 20 and 30-somethings want to have everything at their fingertips and are opting to live in locations with better public transportation access to the bigger cities where they work. Howard County still lacks in accessible transportation to these cities, with the exception of the occasional commuter bus which has very limited hours.

Finally, this may just be a sign of the times. I think Howard County is a place to move to when you are ready to start a family. Less and less people are having kids in their 20s and early 30s and are opting to get their careers in place first. Heck I'm 35 now and I just had my first child a couple of weeks ago. Looking around the birthing recovering ward at HoCo General Hospital, I definitely didn't feel like "the old guy" in there. In fact, I saw several new fathers that looked to be older than myself. So if people are starting families later in life and HoCo really isn't a hip place to live when you aren't a family person, I could see this having an impact on the numbers.

Just a few thoughts. Thanks for sharing that report.


Columbia20Something said...

This isn't much of a surprise to me. My husband and I moved to Columbia about 1-2 years ago, and it seems that no matter where we go or what events we attend we're always the youngest adults there by at least 20 years. It does sometimes feel like we're living in a retirement community...