East Flatbush has been identified as the neighborhood that is the most underserved by and in need of cooling infrastructure, according to a report from the New York City Comptroller’s office.
The report, titled “Overheated, Underserved”, analyzed the availability of cooling centers across New York City during the seven-day heat wave that occurred in the city between July 19-25, 2022.
In the report, it found that East Flatbush only had two open cooling centers that were available to the neighborhood, despite the fact that there were 162,400 people residing in the neighborhood at the time of the report.
It would be pinpointed as the NYC neighborhood with the lowest amount of cooling centers per 100,000 people.
The report also mentions that it is the neighborhood with the highest heat vulnerability in NYC. This conclusion was based on the heat vulnerability index.
The heat vulnerability index, according to the NYC Comptroller's office, estimates the heat risk of neighborhoods based on various factors. This includes social and environmental factors, green space, access to home air conditioning, and poverty rates.
With the city experiencing another heat wave, NYC Comptroller Brad Lander says that it is imperative that East Flatbush, as well as other neighborhoods experiencing similar cooling infrastructure disparities, are provided with more cooling centers to protect NYC residents from the dangers of extreme heat.
“As climate change makes deadly heat waves more prevalent, New York City must shade its residents from dangerous health effects. A heat advisory is in effect today, and more are coming. We should move immediately to establish additional cooling centers in neighborhoods like East Flatbush, where our analysis shows very high heat vulnerability but far too little access to cooling sites,” Lander said.
“We can take immediate steps to keep libraries and senior center centers open over weekends and during high heat evenings in key areas. If we take action now, we can prevent future heat emergencies from becoming life-threatening catastrophes.”
A list of recommended solutions were also included in the Comptroller's report, with the number one recommendation being to increase cooling center locations in underserved neighborhoods throughout NYC.
Other recommendations mentioned includes:
- Expanding alternate cooling center siting options.
- Establishing outdoor cooling stations.
- Increasing extended and weekend hours of cooling centers.
- Making cooling center information permanently available for proactive emergency planning purposes.
- Ensuring all cooling centers are wheelchair accessible.
- Transitioning to more sustainable cooling systems,
- Installing more green spaces and cool pavements in heat-vulnerable neighborhoods.
To view the full report from the NYC Comptroller's office, click here.