Auburn Hills, Michigan, joined the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities in August 2013 and embarked on a five-year process to assess the needs of the city's residents, develop an action plan, implement the plan and evaluate its performance. The Age-Friendly Auburn Hills initiative is carrying out these steps with the goal of making the city welcoming for people of all ages.
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Over the course of 2014 and 2015 a leadership team consisting of city agency and community leaders engaged with Auburn Hills residents through surveys, focus groups, community conversations, committee meetings and roundtable discussions with businesses and nonprofit organizations that interact with older residents.
Among the questions asked of residents:
"What's it like to walk and drive in Auburn Hills and the surrounding area as an older person?"
"In what ways does Auburn Hills include (or not include) you as an older person in activities and events?"
The efforts identified 20 action items (see pages 19 through 33 of the report) for the city across seven areas: Housing, Transportation, Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Community Health Services, Social Activities, Volunteer and Civic Engagement, and Communication and Information.
For each action item, the City of Auburn Hills Age-Friendly 2015 Action Plan identifies steps, resources, possible partners, obstacles, timelines and metrics for implementation from between 2015 and 2018.
The full report, which includes summary findings of the community conversations (page 11), focus groups (page 15) and business roundtable (page 17), can be downloaded at right.
KEY POINTS: ABOUT AUBURN HILLS
- Auburn Hills has 21,412 residents, just over 2,000 of whom are age 65 and over. By 2035, the number of residents age 65-plus is expected to reach 7,345.
- The 60-plus population of Auburn Hills increases by an annual average of 232 people.
- According to the local Area Agency on Aging, 2,539 households in Auburn Hills include one or more residents age 60 or older. Of those households, 313 households consist of people who live alone.
- The median income of the city's age 65-plus households is $35,078.
KEY POINTS: PLAN RECOMMENDATIONS
The plan’s key strategies for becoming an age-friendly city include:
- Creating and distributing an age-friendly housing guide that will encourage real estate developers to use universal design features when creating new housing units
- Improving the city’s bike paths, trails and overall walkability by, among other efforts, installing emergency phones, adding benches and emergency lighting, and developing a routine maintenance program
- Increasing bus program ridership through activities such as installing bus stops that shelter riders from weather and providing tools that update riders on the status of arriving and departing buses
- Educating residents about community health services through marketing programs and better promotion of local health fairs and health screenings
- Increasing the number of intergenerational programs by identifying the demand for such programs, and then marketing the events and recruiting volunteers
- Establishing a "Time Bank" through which participants can exchange services instead of having to pay for them
- Establishing a "neighbors check on neighbors" program
- Increasing the marketing of Auburn Hills-based events and making the city’s website more accessible (by design enhancements such as using a larger font)
- Partnering with stores to provide deliveries for homebound residents
HOW TO USE
The residents and community leaders of Auburn Hills can work to support and implement the action items outlined in this strategic plan. Other towns and cities in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities can look to the structure and recommendations of the Auburn Hills action plan when creating theirs.
Report published April 2015. Summary by Jessica Ludwig