Giving Compass' Take:
- Increasingly frequent and devastating natural disasters driven by climate change will hurt housing stability, and therefore financial security, in the U.S. and around the world.
- How can you help communities most vulnerable to climate change prepare for disasters to come?
- Learn about one tribe's climate adaption action plan.
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Climate-related disasters – floods, storms, droughts, and heat waves – have been on the rise and are demanding urgent attention. With 30 named storms, 2020 was the most active hurricane season on record. Wildfires also increased in 2020, forcing 100,000 people from their homes, and burning over 5 million acres in Washington, Oregon, and California. The total cost of natural disaster damages was nearing $50 billion in September 2020, already surpassing the total cost for all of 2019. As of the end of 2020, there had been 22 billion-dollar climate-related disasters. One-third of all homes in the US are considered at high risk of a natural disaster, resulting in many homeowners bearing the brunt of costly repairs.
Communities affected by climate change are often impacted by multiple natural disasters in a relatively short period of time, destroying homes that had often just been rebuilt from the previous disaster. In fall 2020, two hurricanes hit Southwest Louisiana within a month of each other, affecting working-class residents the most. Homes that survived the high winds of the first hurricane were damaged by the flooding of the second, while some homes in rural areas were simply destroyed. The compounding effects of the pandemic have limited the amount of private aid as well as public assistance that has been available, slowing the recovery. Two months after many families are still rebuilding, often living in rented trailers or tents as their homes are repaired by a limited supply of contractors.
As climate change intensifies, housing stability will be increasingly under threat. Housing is the primary determinant of people’s financial security and generational wealth in the US. Housing is also the largest expense for families, as more than 38 million US households live in housing that is not affordable to them. Unaffordable and insecure housing leaves families less able to cope with unexpected expenses such as extensive repairs or rebuilding from flooding or wildfires. Both the frequency and reoccurrence of climate-related disasters has exacerbated affordable housing crises in areas prone to disasters. Without significant intervention, areas prone to climate-related disasters will continue to face housing instability.
Read the full article about climate change and housing stability Taylor Gauthier and Financial Security Program at The Aspen Institute