Thousands of new homes will be built in low-lying areas that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy under New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new affordable housing plan.
“While the program will create jobs and help bridge the gap between rich and poor, it will also have to be carried out carefully to avoid putting more people in danger as water levels rise because of global warming,” InsideClimate News reports.
With New York facing 11 to 24 inches (27.5 to 60 centimetres) of sea level rise by the 2050s, nearly 25% of the city’s 8.4 million residents will be living in a flood plain by mid-century. “As we think about bold development decisions now, we have to factor in a rapidly changing climate,” Matt Ryan, executive director of the Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN), told ICN. “Sandy was evidence enough for that.”
De Blasio spokeswoman Amy Spitalnack said any new affordable housing would have to be built to withstand the effects of climate change, and Bill Ulfelder, executive director of the Nature Conservancy’s New York office, agreed that “we can build smart to provide quality housing and protection from the risks of climate change.” But Columbia University geophysicist Klaus Jacob said it was risky to locate new developments in vulnerable parts of Long Island City, Staten Island, the Rockaways and East Brooklyn.
“Even if the new structures are elevated and resilient, people still have to go to and from their buildings,” he said. “It would be much more meaningful to rezone low-density, high elevation areas in the city for affordable housing so you don’t have to worry again in 50, 75, 100 years.”