5 Things to Know About Pew’s “State of the City” Report

Pew has released its annual “State of the City” report for Philadelphia — really, just an update of the more comprehensive 2015 report. Here are five things you should know about the city based on this year’s edition:

Philadelphia is getting younger: “As the United States has gotten older, Philadelphia has become younger — largely because of the growth of the city’s young adult population, the much-discussed millennials. A decade ago, Philadelphia had a median age of 35.3, only a year below the nation’s 36.4. In the most recent census, the city’s age was down to 33.8, while the national figure had risen to 37.7 — a difference of nearly four years. Remarkably, this happened over a time in which the number of children in the city was declining.” Read more »

PA Goes Easy on Charter Schools, But So Do Most States

School District of Philadelphia

Photo by Jeff Fusco

This year, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission has moved to close four charter schools for poor academic performance. That’s unusual, and controversial. Locally and across the state, charter schools are rarely closed, even when they are poor academic performers year after year.

That sort of lenience with charters is, it seems, not at all uncommon in the rest of the country.

A new study from the Pew Philadelphia Research Initiative found that the rules governing the creation, operation and closure of charter schools in Pennsylvania are not too different from those of other states. Read more »

The 5 Coolest Projects Pew Just Funded


One project includes a PHS pop-up at the Philadelphia Rail Park. | Rendering via Friends of the Rail Park

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage was founded in 2005, and has given out more than a thousand project grants and named more than 300 fellows. One project it funded was Zoe Strauss’s 10-year retrospective, which produced one of the greatest pieces of art in recent memory: The scowling woman on the billboard at the corner of 10th and Reed. So I’d consider it a success already.

It recently announced its 2015 grantees. 34 projects will be funded. 13 fellows were named. Three achievement grands were given out.

We perused the list and found our five favorites. Read more »

Morning Headlines: Homeownership in the Far Northeast Increases, As the City’s Rate Plummets

home for sale

The city may be among the largest with high homeownership rates, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a significant fall. In a Pew report released this past Wednesday, Philadelphia was found to have a 7.1 percentage-point decline– the second-highest drop in homeownership in comparison to other major cities.

According to the Inquirer’s Alan J. Heavens, the study reports the plunge took place between 2000 and 2012, and that its main catalyst was the infamous “real estate downturn that followed the bursting of the housing bubble in 2006-07,” as well as other general recession fruits (“stagnant incomes,” “rising home prices,” and “tight credit”).

Concrete reasons for the homeownership downturn, however, are harder to come by. Pew study director Larry Eichel believes Philly had a “higher starting point in terms of homeownership, so it had further to drop,” but that there’s “no hard data on which to base a firm conclusion.”

Plus, there is that thing about student-loan debt. As Heavens puts it, “young professionals who once were the chief source of first-time buyers are either wary of homeownership or burdened by student-loan debt.” And yet, there is one section of the city that has had its homeownership go up (granted, just by 1%): Read more »

Pew: Housing Market Is the Bright Spot in Philly’s Cloudy Skies

millennialsA younger, better educated, upwardly mobile horde has descended on Philadelphia, transforming swaths of the city into something barely recognizable to old-timers. This demographic touched off a residential building boom last year, the single strongest positive indicator of the city’s rebound, according to the Pew Philadelphia Research Initiative’s latest “Philadelphia: State of the City” update.

More than half of all Philadelphians are now under the age of 35, and 26 percent are between the ages of 20 and 34, when young adults are in the process of launching careers and households. Building places for these residents to live has become a growth industry: in 2013, the city issued building permits for 2,815 new housing units, the most in a decade. That new construction has an estimated value of $465 million, the highest on record.

Read more »