Rep. Maloney Advocates for a Green Future for New York’s Public Housing
WASHINGTON, DC — At today’s Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance virtual hearing titled “Built to Last: Examining Housing Resilience in the Face of Climate Change,” Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), senior member of the committee, emphasized investing in a green future for New York’s public housing.
During her exchange with Chief Climate Strategist at the Natural Resources Defense Council Shelley Poticha, Congresswoman Maloney stated, “Climate change is one of the single most pressing threats facing New Yorkers, this country, and the global community. And our most vulnerable communities are bearing the brunt of the consequences. As we look to building back better, we must do so with a focus on climate justice and climate resiliency. For New York City, that means investing in a green future for New York City’s public housing.”
She continued, “The Green New Deal for Public Housing, introduced by my colleague [Rep.] Ocasio-Cortez, would help us achieve this by investing up to $180 billion over ten years in sustainable retrofits that target urgent maintenance repairs, improvements to residents’ health and safety, and the elimination of carbon emissions. It also provides funding to electrify all buildings, add solar panels, and secure renewable energy sources for all public housing energy needs. In short, it will make federal housing cleaner, safer, and greener.”
In response to the Congresswoman asking if the federal government should include carbon reduction and climate resiliency measures when investing in affordable housing, Ms. Poticha responded, “I really appreciate your vision for a more comprehensive set of solutions, because what we know, the science tells us, that even if we go full bore on making our communities as resilient as possible, we are still going to be facing the impacts of climate change. And affordable housing is so essential to be a key role in our response because these are the people who are the most vulnerable. They are the most vulnerable to harm when their home doesn’t have tight windows, air comes in, moisture builds, they get asthma, they’re sent to the hospital. But they’re also more vulnerable due to an inability to have a really stable home. So, the more that we can connect climate resilience and affordable housing as one issue – that really I think is the place that we should be.”
As a follow-up, the Congresswoman asked, “Will the failure to invest in climate resiliency lead to the loss of more housing units - contributing to the affordable housing crisis in our nation?”
Ms. Poticha answered, “Well, absolutely. […] I think that what we have seen [inaudible] is housing that has not been kept up to standards. These are the most vulnerable households to an extreme weather event, or hurricane, or a big wind event. And if we start to lose those housing units, we’re starting to really see a catastrophe in our communities.”
You can watch the full exchange here.
America’s housing infrastructure is vulnerable to the growing costs of climate and weather disasters, which may accelerate the need for maintenance and repair, or render units of housing infrastructure uninhabitable.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, increases in global average temperature are linked to “widespread changes in weather patterns,” and scientific studies have shown that climate change caused by humans will likely lead to more frequent and intense extreme weather events. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Centers for Environmental Information reported that 2020 set a new annual record with 22 weather/climate disaster events that caused more than $1 billion in damage, the sixth year in a row the U.S. has experienced ten or more such events. While a comprehensive federal data set specific to the number of units of housing lost to climate and weather events does not exist, the destructive impacts on the nation’s housing stock have been profound both in terms of financial and human costs. Between 2016 and 2020, weather and climate disasters have cost $615.9 billion in damages and have displaced tens of thousands of people from their homes.