As climate change brings powerful storms like Hurricane Harvey with increased frequency and intensity, housing developers are increasingly interested in disaster resilience, which considers issues related to both design and land use. Along with disasters that draw international attention, the everyday effects of climate change, such as rising temperatures, longer heat waves, and increased sunny day flooding and sea level rise, will have direct impacts on communities and the housing stock. How can housing, including affordable housing, be made more resilient to extreme weather and better prepared for the consequences of climate change?
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Of course, the centrist climate wonks hate how expansive the Green New Deal idea is. They think every piece of its social policy is an expensive distraction. But they forgot to follow the carbon beyond their tidy little graphs. In the real world, you can’t separate the carbon causing the climate emergency from our physical and economic systems, any more than you can separate windows, furnaces, and air conditioners from your monthly rent bill. And you can’t separate voters’ – and political organizers’ – desires for a safe and affordable home from their commitment to a stable climate.
Storm after storm, homeowners and businesses pour money into repairing their property, only to be devastated in the next disaster. JCHS reports that “flooding and wind from Hurricane Florence alone damaged some 700,000 residential and commercial properties in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. In California, last year’s wildfires destroyed over 18,800 structures in Paradise and another 1,600 in Malibu.” These extreme weather events are crippling the nation’s housing stock, and only becoming more frequent.
As the world becomes increasingly urbanized and more poor people move to urban areas, the challenges of climate change are exacerbated. Approximately 51 percent of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population will reside in cities just over a generation from now. This rapid migration to cities has triggered infrastructure and housing needs that outpace governments’ ability to respond.