Speaking to a crowd of more than 100 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, keynote speaker Carol Coletta, president and CEO of CEOs for Cities, said there is a shift occurring in the housing demands of young professionals and other city dwellers away from suburban lifestyles and a renewed interest in urban living. She, as part of her firm's national network of urban leaders specializes in identifying trends and mobilizing activists for metropolitan development, added the cities and communities that adapt to those changing demands will be best positioned to grow and prosper. “We have to give Americans a concrete picture of the future,” she said. ‘And we have to figure out how to deliver it.” The 11th annual event was hosted by the North Texas Housing Coalition, a low- to moderate-income housing coalition that serves the 16-county North Texas regions, which includes the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth. Coletta said college graduates are a city’s primary economic driver, and younger generations continue to become more mobile and desire to live in urban, inner city communities. This creates communities with a more diverse income spectrum, which boosts poor or disenfranchised individuals’ ability to move up economically, creating neighborhood stability. But that stability doesn’t necessarily come in the form of homeownership, once considered a bedrock to community development. Coletta said the financial and banking systems haven’t caught up to what consumers and citizens want out of their housing options. The millennial generation is more likely to want to rent or own urban apartments and condominiums rather than single-family houses Another event speaker was Timothy Bray, director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas at Dallas. He acknowledged homeownership is not for every person, but said communities have to promote development that creates affordable and quality housing, including multifamily and mixed-use developments, near employments centers. By doing so, cities can reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and help workers across the entire economic spectrum spend less on commuting, thereby releasing more disposable income. That evolution is already beginning to take root in North Texas, according to Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, who declared “business as usual is dead in Fort Worth, and it needs to be in Dallas.” He said Fort Worth’s city planners are demanding more out of developers who want to do business in the city, and said it is up to municipalities to lead the way to developing stronger communities, because leaving it to the state and federal governments to fix is an ineffective solution. Successful cities will be the ones who focus on systematic growth, with an emphasis on a multi-faceted transportation system and developments that promote a diverse housing inventory, Moncrief added. Write to Austin Kilgore.