Doing Nothing Is Not An Option

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Auburn Hills is at a crossroads.  A series of decisions will need to be made over the next few years to prepare our community for a silent change.  Like how a slow drip from a faucet (when left unchecked) will ultimately fill up a bucket, the number of aging Baby Boomers will gradually bring unprecedented service challenges for those who are not ready.

The numbers tell the story

The numbers tell the story

What’s the big deal?  Well, our town has been designed around the car.  Heck, we’re a critical employment hub hosting some of the largest automobile companies in the world.  In many areas, we have homes on large lots that are physically segregated from retail and service providers.  In other words, we have peaceful neighborhoods with homes designed for younger, larger families strategically planned and zoned to be located away from the noise and congestion of commercial and industrial areas.  That was (and we believe still is) the American Dream.

But, what happens when your town’s 75+ population almost quadruples in size?  What happens when the number of residents 65+ begin to exceed the number of children enrolled in school?   We know this change is coming to Auburn Hills over the next few decades.  We can’t put our heads in the sand and hope all goes well.  We must adjust.

Experts tell us that homes will need to be retrofitted for folks with physical limitations; some will need help mowing their lawns and shoveling snow; many more will outlive their driving ability, become isolated and have difficulty obtaining food and medicine … and the list goes on and on.  Understanding there will be a myriad of challenges, the City of Auburn Hills has decided it must act – doing nothing is not an option.   We’ll not be doing this alone.  AARP will assist and connect us with other communities working on the same mission.

Auburn Hills resident receiving a meal from a volunteer

Auburn Hills resident receiving a meal from a volunteer

We know that government can’t and shouldn’t do everything.  Big programs and big spending is not the answer.  Not for us.  Public-private partnerships need to be formed and cultivated, which will take time, effort, and a shared vision.  It’ll be a team effort and Auburn Hills stands ready to lead.

How?  Together, we will address the impacts of an aging population on our City’s land use, transportation system, housing stock, outdoor spaces, employment options, community support network, and health services.  Yes, it’ll be a challenge.  A fun one!

We ask you to join us in helping to determine what an Age-Friendly community should look like.  We need your input!

Mark your calendars and come to one of our community conversations, listed below.  All the meetings will start at 6:30 p.m.

  • Thursday, February 27 – Great Lakes Golf and Sports Complex – 3951 Joslyn Road
  • Tuesday, March 4 – Auburn Hills Christian Center – 2592 E. Walton
  • Wednesday, March 26 – Avondale R. Grant Graham Elementary – 2450 Old Salem Road
  • Tuesday, April 1 – North Auburn Hills Baptist Church – 3889 N. Squirrel Road
  • Wednesday, April 16 – Avondale High School – 2800 Waukegan

Also, check out our comprehensive Age Friendly Auburn Hills resource page (click here to view).

People of all ages are encouraged to get involved.  If you’re really busy, just come to one of the community conversation meetings and tell us what you think.   If you’re passionate about this issue, let us know and we’ll plug you into the project as a volunteer.

Come join us.  In partnership, we can make Auburn Hills a friendlier place for all.