Brief Centering Equity to Address Extreme Heat
Preparing Communities for Hotter Days
Rebecca Marx, Jorge Morales-Burnett
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Extreme heat is the deadliest weather-related event in the United States and, until now, has been one of the least talked about. Although extreme heat has tremendous implications for people everywhere, its impacts are especially felt in urban areas both small and large, where denser concentrations of pavement, buildings, and other materials retain heat. Its impact is not felt equally across communities. 

The legacy of racist housing policies and historic disinvestment in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color leaves low-income populations and people of color both more likely to live in hotter neighborhoods and less likely to have access to resources to cope with extreme temperatures. As such, extreme heat cannot be addressed without considering equity. Without an intentional focus on equity, inequities of the past may be overlooked or made worse, and well-meaning plans may have unintended consequences for the most vulnerable community members. 

We identify three overarching workstreams that local governments are undertaking to address extreme heat (assessing community vulnerabilities; building emergency preparedness capacity; and adapting and mitigating through planning and design), and we offer recommendations on how equity can be advanced in each workstream.

Research Areas Climate change, disasters, and community resilience Housing Land use Neighborhoods, cities, and metros Social safety net
Tags Equitable disaster recovery Environmental justice Climate impacts and community resilience
Policy Centers Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center