Breaking Down Barriers

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Could someone with a physical limitation visit your home today?  Do you think that you will be able to continue living in your home as you grow older?  The answer to both questions is most likely “no.”

The City of Auburn Hills is working to address this issue and raise awareness with home builders that certain design elements and features can be seamlessly integrated into the construction of a new home so that it is functionally accessible for people of all ages and abilities.  Encouraging “universal design” was a key policy recommendation that resulted from discussions with the community during the Age Friendly Auburn Hills initiative.

Overview of Universal Design Features. Diagram used with permission from Heartland Builders, LLC.

Overview of Universal Design Features. Diagram used with permission from Heartland Builders, LLC.

The strategy behind the universal design movement is to make a home usable for everyone, especially those with short or long-term disabilities (living within or visiting), by discretely removing physical barriers – without making the home look institutional or aesthetically unappealing.

To incentivize builders to incorporate these design features into their new home proposals, the City intends to offer streamlined permitting and eligibility for zoning flexibility.

Those interested in learning more about this initiative and proposed ordinance are encouraged to attend the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Wednesday, February 15th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall.  A final decision on the ordinance is anticipated to be made by the City Council on Monday, February 27th.