Jan 22, 2020

Mayors' strategies for graying cities

Erica Pandey, author of @Work

Rapidly aging populations are set to challenge U.S. cities, five mayors told a roundtable Tuesday.

The big picture: The median U.S. age jumped from 28 to 38 between 1970 and 2016, per CityLab. As cities get older, their mayors are tasked with creating policies and building infrastructure to adapt.

Details: The mayors, who are in D.C. for the U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering this week, spoke with reporters before an event organized by The Hill. They identified affordable housing and access to transportation as two urgent issues affecting seniors.

  • Rochester Hills, Michigan is holding information sessions on autonomous vehicles for its seniors. Some older people might think "this is 'Jetsons'-type stuff that won't affect me," said Mayor Bryan Barnett. But when he tells seniors they're likely to live 10 years beyond driving age, and that AVs could improve quality of life, "they start to pay attention," he said.
  • Kansas City, Missouri offers some public bus rides for free, and the bulk of riders are older adults, Mayor Quinton Lucas said.
  • Fort Worth, Texas is infusing its city infrastructure with tech (such as cashless parking meters). To ease the transition for older residents who might be unfamiliar with the changes, the city organizes lessons at local libraries, said Mayor Betsy Price.

What to watch: Some cities are aging faster than others, CityLab reports. Communities in the Midwest and Appalachia are getting increasingly older as younger people move to the coasts, and managing aging populations will be an even more acute issue there.

Go deeper ... Read Axios' special report: The aging, childless future

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Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

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Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

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