BOWIE – At the turn of the century, Bowie’s population was chiefly Caucasian. The city was 62 percent white at the time, according to the Census Bureau. By 2014, the latest data available, that number has dropped to 27 percent. The nearly 29 percent change reflects a wider trend in all of Prince George’s County: […]
BOWIE – At the turn of the century, Bowie’s population was chiefly Caucasian.
The city was 62 percent white at the time, according to the Census Bureau. By 2014, the latest data available, that number has dropped to 27 percent.
The nearly 29 percent change reflects a wider trend in all of Prince George’s County: white population has decreased by almost 24 percent from the 2000 to the 2010 Census.
However, other populations in Bowie have flourished since then. African-Americans now make up more than 64 percent of Bowie’s population, a ten percent increase since 2000.
One of the county’s most robust cities, Bowie has long been seen as a model of success for other cities in the county.
“We always talk about the small-town feel that Bowie has that you can’t find in other places,” said Joe Meinert, planning director for Bowie.
Meinert suggested that “small-town feel” and the sense of inclusive community in Bowie are driving more people to purchase houses in the city. He added that the diversity is only improving Bowie.
Others agreed with Meinert’s assessment of the gradual change in population demographics and what it means to Bowie.
When asked if the sudden shift is creating a rift between the residents of Bowie, Denise Mahoney, assistant to the city manager said, “not at all.”
“I think it’s the same wonderful community that it’s always been and it’s great to see the increase in diversity here,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney said she has lived in Bowie for 40 years and it has become a more enjoyable place to live in that time.
Meinert and Mahoney may be right. Bowie’s sense of inclusive community is one of the city’s best characteristics and it’s starting to provide some concrete evidence that people want to live there.
Since 2000, an estimated 15,279 new houses were constructed in Bowie, according to an American Community Survey (ACS) report provided by the city. The Census Bureau uses the ACS to provide more current information to supplement the Census. In 2010, the bureau started using long-form surveys in non-Census years to gain more information about housing numbers across the United States in particular.
“It’s giving a much more detailed image of our community on a much more regular basis,” Meinert said.
He also pointed to the nature of Bowie’s housing market and the tendency for homes to appreciate well as a reason behind the more diverse demographic in Bowie over the past 15 years.
“People are seeing opportunity in Bowie,” he said.
As a result, home values in Bowie are surging. In 2008, there were 105 houses valued at $1 million or higher. Five years later in 2013, that number had increased to 180, according to the report.
But overall, the median house value in Bowie has dropped significantly – from more than $348,000 a house to less than $287,000 a house – since 2008.
It’s not clear what’s responsible for the drop in value, though Meinert suggested migration of people seeking opportunity in Bowie’s robust economy might lead to less value in the short-term, but an increase in the long-term.
The population of Bowie as a whole has steadily increased over the past 15 years – the 2010 Census showed an estimated 7.07 percent increase, almost exactly mirroring the 7.71 percent increase in all of Prince George’s County during that same time span.
That could be because Bowie has simply become a more affordable place to live. According to the report, almost 48 percent of people living in Bowie had rents or mortgages that were more than 35 percent of their annual income in 2008. Now, less than 37 percent of residents have that problem.
The median household mortgage in Bowie is also at an all-time low for the first time since 2005. Bowie’s vacant housing units are at an all-time low for the first time since 2008 as well, making for a possible sign that those who moved to Bowie for opportunity are starting to stick around and make a difference.
“It is more than just one kind of change. There’s no doubt about that. We are seeing it all across the board,” Meinert said.