$106M program to bring heat relief to Central Brooklyn and other hot spots
‘Cool Neighborhoods NYC’
New York City is becoming steadily hotter, and officials have identified three areas in particular — Central Brooklyn, the south Bronx and Northern Manhattan — as being especially vulnerable to the negative health effects brought on by the crippling heat.
These sections of the city will be the focus of a new $106 million program designed to bring some summer relief, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday.
According to the city, extreme heat leads to an average of 450 heat-related emergency department visits, 150 hospital admissions and 13 heatstroke deaths annually. Residents of Central Brooklyn, the Bronx and Northern Manhattan tend to suffer from higher poverty, be in poorer health and have less access to air conditioning than residents of other sections of NYC, rendering them more vulnerable to the heat.
As a major part of the Cool Neighborhoods NYC program, $82 million will go toward street tree plantings and another $16 million is allocated for trees in parks. An additional $7 million will go to support forest restoration across the five boroughs.
Street trees lead to temperature reduction through shading and evaporative cooling, which takes place on the leaves.
Other program initiatives include an expansion of the NYC °CoolRoofs program, which installs reflective coatings on roofing, and the replacing of dark-colored asphalt on roads with materials like planted medians that radiate less heat. The city will also plug into existing support systems by training home health aides to identify at-risk older adults, and encouraging a buddy program.
“Climate change is a dagger aimed at the heart of our city, and extreme heat is the edge of the knife,” de Blasio said in a release.
He added, “This is a question of equity; hotter summers, exacerbated by climate change, are a threat that falls disproportionately on communities of color and the elderly. We are answering that question with programs designed to protect the health of New Yorkers, expand our city’s tree canopy, promote community cohesion and more.”
Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement that most heat-related deaths in the city happen behind closed doors in homes without air conditioning.
The New York City Panel on Climate Change projects up to a 5.7-degree increase in average city temperatures and a doubling of the number of days above 90 degrees by the 2050s.
The entire plan can be found at www1.nyc.gov/assets/orr/pdf/Cool_Neighborhoods_NYC_Report_FINAL.pdf.
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