If the LVPC’s projections are roughly accurate, the three core Lehigh Valley cities are going to need to plan to build a whole lot of new apartments in their downtowns. So far I’ve heard zero politicians or candidates for office talking about policies to expand the rental market. It’s all homeownership, all the time. Even though increases in homeownership weakens regional economies in important ways.
For the first time in decades, middle-income people seeking affordable housing are looking in the cities. And young professionals are looking to urban communities where they can walk to shop, play and maybe even work.
As a result, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission predicts that by 2040 more than 40,000 more people will be living in the Valley’s three cities.
Allentown’s formerly stagnant population will increase to nearly 140,000, Bethlehem will bulge to almost 90,000 and Easton will grow to nearly 34,000, the planners say.
For Bethlehem and Easton, it would represent the first significant gains in more than 40 years. For Allentown, it would be an extension of the surprising 2010 U.S. Census; most demographers had been predicting the city’s decline.