There are nearly 450,000 low-income housing units at risk of flooding in the United States. That’s according to a 2017 report from NYU’s Furhman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.
But according to Laurie Schoeman of Enterprise Community Partners (ECP) — a non-profit organization that aims to “create opportunity for low- and moderate-income people through affordable housing in diverse, thriving communities” — that figure is “if anything … an underestimate of areas that are at risk,” she told the New York Times last year.
Because the federal government’s flood risk maps are based largely on historical data, Schoeman explained, there’s no guarantee that more recent climate-driven increases in local precipitation are accounted for — a reminder that all affordable housing communities should have disaster plans in place.
This is particularly vital, writes former HUD official Harriet Tregoning in her foreward to ECP’s Strategies for Multifamily Building Resilience, because “many of the most vulnerable Americans live in affordable multifamily housing that is not designed to sustain extreme climate shocks.”
And, unfortunately, flooding isn’t the only extreme weather threatening these communities.
Even in states historically plagued by brutal summer heatwaves, affordable housing owners are not required to install air conditioning, let alone implement alternative strategies for mitigating the impacts on residents.
And this vulnerability to extreme heat is only expected to grow as the COVID-19 pandemic continues through the summer months. Experts are already warning that we may be facing more heat-related deaths than in previous years as increasingly cash-strapped households choose to forgo expensive, energy-inefficient cooling methods or avoid air-conditioned public places all together out of fear of contracting the virus.
Enterprise Community Partners has the tools to help communities prepare
ECP’s Ready to Respond Tools for Resilience were developed to help affordable housing organizations make their buildings resilient, prepare their staff to handle…