Low-income communities are disproportionately affected by extreme weather, according to a report out Monday from the Center for American Progress that offers policy recommendations to shore up infrastructure and protect against future damages.
The report, "A Disaster in the Making: Addressing the Vulnerability of Low-Income Communities to Extreme Weather," states that neighborhoods where a majority of residents live at or below the poverty line are ill-prepared to deal with fallout from storms and other weather-related disasters. As a result, extreme weather hits low-income communities harder.
"While many describe storms and other extreme weather as 'social equalizers' that do not differentiate based on ethnicity, race, or class, the truth is that these events exacerbate our underlying economic inequities," writes Tracey Ross, the report's author and a senior policy analyst with the center's Poverty to Prosperity program.
Ross uses superstorm Sandy to illustrate her point. The majority of New York City storm-surge victims were low-income renters, she writes, citing a statistic provided by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Residents of subsidized high-rise apartments were trapped inside their homes in large numbers during the storm, often because they had nowhere to go and no way to leave. In other cases, elderly or disabled individuals living at or below the poverty line were stranded inside high-rise towers when power outages put elevators out of service.