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Lessons from the Storm: Climate Displacement Three Years After Hurricane Sandy

October 28, 2015

This report by the Center for American Progress assesses the recovery of New York’s and New Jersey’s middle- and low-income communities three years after Hurricane Sandy devastated the region in 2012. The report analyzes the challenges encountered by state and city leaders to help reduce displacement of people in the days and years following the storm, as well as innovative policies that emerged to prevent future extreme weather and climate displacement. The Center also highlights the important role that community groups play as citizen first responders, liaisons to government officials, and in long-term housing and recovery efforts.

Authors or Affiliated Users: Danielle Baussan, Miranda Peterson

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City of Miami, Florida Resolution on Climate Gentrification

November 5, 2018

On November 5, 2018, Mayor Suarez of Miami signed a Resolution directing city staff to research the effects of “climate gentrification” on low-income communities that are inland at higher elevations, and to explore ways to stabilize property taxes to reduce displacement. The City of Miami, Florida is seeing high rates of sea-level rise and increasing incidence of nuisance flooding in low-lying areas. As a result, higher elevation areas of the city, which house many of Miami’s lower and moderate income communities, are seeing greater development pressures, which is affecting property values and taxes.

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Anticipated Vulnerabilities: Displacement and Migration in the Age of Climate Change

September 2019

When Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico in September of 2017, thousands of its inhabitants were forced to flee their homes - many of whom ended up in in the City of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Between 2017 and 2018, over 5,400 people moved from Puerto Rico to Holyoke. In the years that followed, the city and partners at Hunter College and the University of Connecticut surveyed these families, intending to learn what aspects worked in response to their displacement and resettlement. Officials also hoped to assess how other cities could duplicate the incorporation of Puerto Rican climate migrants into Holyoke as more frequent climate events displace additional communities in the coming years.

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Maryland Park Equity Mapper

2019

The Maryland Park Equity Mapper combines layers of demographic and environmental data in order to determine the park equity of different census tracts in Maryland, allowing users to visualize disparities in park access and quality across the state. The tool was developed by the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) Laboratory at the University of Maryland School of Public Health in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) and University of Maryland Center for Geospatial Information Science (CGIS). This tool can be used by residents and policymakers in order to identify underserved communities that are in need of new park infrastructure and green space.

Resource Category: Data and tools

 

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Maryland Environmental Justice Screen Tool (MD EJSCREEN)

January 2019

The Maryland Environmental Justice Screen Tool (MD EJSCREEN) assesses environmental justice risks among census tracts in the state of Maryland. Developed by the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health Laboratory at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, this tool combines the average pollution burden of a community with the average population demographic characteristics to produce an Environmental Justice (EJ) score. Stakeholders advocacy resulted in the inclusion of six indicators of EJ risk specific to Maryland: asthma, emergency room discharges, percent non-White, proximity to treatment, storage and disposal facilities, myocardial infarction discharges, low birth weight infants, and particulate matter. Through this tool, Maryland residents can be better informed of disparities in EJ risk among different communities and their associated health impacts.

 

Resource Category: Data and tools

 

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Tehama, California Elevating Homes

The City of Tehama, California is working to protect vulnerable residents from flooding through elevation of their homes. Tehama is adjacent to the Sacramento River in the northern Central Valley and has endured several floods over the years. As climate change is anticipated to increase the potential for flooding in this area, residents are at a greater risk of losing their homes to flooding. Many of the residents are unable to pay for the cost of elevating their homes, prompting the city to patch together non-municipal funding sources to substantially reduce residents’ costs. The majority of the cost was covered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) through Section 205 of the Flood Control Act of 1948, and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. The remaining 10% of the cost could be covered by funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) program for low income residents. 

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Tiered Assistance Program

2017

The City of Philadelphia created the Tiered Assistance Program (TAP) in 2017 in order to address water affordability for low income communities. In Philadelphia, water affordability is an issue that affects a large number of families - between April 2012 and January 2018, 40% of households either had unpaid bills or some other sort of water debt. To address this issue, the Philadelphia Water Department implemented TAP, a program that allows customers to pay water bills at a percent of their income - this payment is capped at 3%. Through this program’s fixed rates, Philadelphians who are struggling to pay their water bill can budget more accurately and access more affordable water, which is predicted to result in increased payment rates and reduced water debts.

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Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project

The Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP) was established through funding from the U.S. Government’s Office of Economic Opportunity in the 1960s. The Project helps low-income rural communities in the mid-Atlantic and the Southeastern U.S. obtain water and wastewater infrastructure for running water, indoor plumbing, and wastewater treatment. Water utilities in these rural areas often lack funding to provide such infrastructure. Households that are not supplied with drinking water tend to rely on wells and septic tanks, which can get contaminated by pollution from agricultural activity and the lack of suitable wastewater treatment. SERCAP assists both individuals and municipalities, and its services include installing infrastructure, providing financing and loans, and offering technical support. In addition to providing services related to water, SERCAP also provides support on housing issues.

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Louisiana Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE)

2018

The Louisiana Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE) planning process is aimed at climate adaptation and resilience planning for coastal communities in Louisiana. The strategy supports mitigating risks and increasing resilience to coastal impacts - especially flooding. The LA SAFE initiative was first funded through a HUD long-term disaster recovery grant, for six parishes most impacted by Hurricane Isaac in 2012.  Guided by the state of Louisiana, and a network of regional non-profits focused on coastal restoration and resilience, it is a goal of the LA SAFE program to expand the program statewide in the future.

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Sacramento, California Leak Free Program

January 2016

The City of Sacramento Department of Utilities Leak Free program pays for leak repair in the homes of low-income Sacramento residents. Recipients of the service must be homeowners and must live in areas designated by the State of California as being a “Disadvantaged Community” (DAC). The characteristics of a DAC include poverty, high unemployment, air and water pollution, and the presence of hazardous wastes as well as high incidence of asthma and heart disease. Through this program, residents who may not have access to affordable plumbing can sign up for one house visit from a contracted plumber.

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