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American cities to Millennials: Don't leave

Reconnecting America Chief of Staff Allison Brooks was interviewed by USA Today reporter Haya El Nasser for her article "American cities to Millennials: Don't leave."

Grocery stores, child care and other services near transit. The young have been flocking to cities partly because they can walk to work or take mass transit. They still want that, but it can be daunting when they have kids in tow and need to take a bus to the grocery store and a subway to the day care center.

"The first thing to know is where the gaps are," says Allison Brooks, chief of staff for Reconnecting America, a national organization that works to link transportation and community development. She's co-author of the group's recent report, Are We There Yet? Creating Complete Communities for 21st Century America.

Brooks has worked with the city of Denver to map where day care centers, preschools, grocery stores and jobs are in relation to public transit stops. She has found more willingness among local leaders to cooperate in the face of this demographic transformation.

The availability of city data that are easily accessible to citizens has given residents everywhere more input in governing. ...

"We have to help people live easier lifestyles, healthier lifestyles and more affordable lifestyles," Brooks says. "There is real interest in creating these environments. Cities want to keep these people. They spend money."

The Fruitvale Transit Village in Oakland opened in 2004 with a library, a charter school, a senior center and housing near the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station and has become a national model for integrating transit and services.

Brooks, who lives in Oakland and has a 3-year-old, has no intention of leaving the city where 20% of schools are charter, she says. "I can walk to a BART station. I can ride my bike to downtown Oakland," she says. "Even if we decide to send her to private school, we're not going to move out."

Read the full article here.