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How Cities Can Support Urban Families – And Vice-Versa

The purpose of the Gujral Community Fund is to help support families living in San Francisco. The percentage of children living in San Francisco has fallen to just 13%, ranking last out of the 100 largest US cities. Families, and those who want to start families, are struggling to stay in the City. San Francisco lacks not only affordable, appropriately-sized housing, but also safe green spaces and parks, kid-friendly restaurants, well-designed sidewalks and other pedestrian safety measures, as well as convenient childcare options. As an article on Vox.com noted, “Children cost money. And they take up space. And urban space has become much more expensive — repelling growing families.”

It is understandable that families are choosing to move out of the inner city. The suburbs offer more space (larger homes and yards), good schools, and neighborhoods where kids are more free to roam and experience free play. But there are benefits to having kids grow up in dense urban areas – for the kids, the parents, and the community.

Age Diversity

Young people add an energy, vibrancy, and sense of wonder to their communities. Plus, families with children help support a wide range of local businesses. According to the blog Child in the City, “[y]oung people who grow up aware of people’s differences and abilities are more likely to be accepting of age differences and behaviours as adults.”

Career Opportunities for Parents

Many major business and financial centers are located in urban environments. Working parents may miss out on important career opportunities if they choose to relocate to more suburban areas for financial or familial reasons. Conversely, many young adults are postponing having children due to the pressures of their careers and working long hours just to maintain a small apartment. As noted in a New York Times article, “Technology workers who move to San Francisco and Silicon Valley anticipate long hours and know they may have to put off having families.”

Urban Design for All

Cities that are designed with a range of ages in mind are more livable and safer. Urban features such as accessible sidewalks, proper crosswalks, safe open green spaces and parks, protected bikeways, and other infrastructure improvements such as widely-available public transportation and health services benefit all urban dwellers. The Canadian not-for-profit group 8 80 Cities has found that if a city is designed for both an 8-year old and an 80-year old, everyone else will benefit.

In order for cities like ours to continue to thrive, we must work to make our communities accessible to all ages. While we cannot solve the problem on our own, we are determined to help make a difference and are excited for the opportunity to give back to San Francisco families. Follow us on social media for updates on our grant-giving and to learn more about how we can all help our city remain a great place to live, for everyone.

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