Launches new $106 million Cool Neighborhoods NYC program, expanding the Administration’s aggressive climate resiliency agenda
Before the hottest days of the summer arrive, Mayor de Blasio is announcing the launch of Cool Neighborhoods NYC, a new $106 million program designed to curb the effect of extreme heat, and protect against the worst effects of rising temperatures from climate change. This comprehensive city program will involve proactive and reactive measures in heat-sensitive neighborhoods to help mitigate the threat to public health from the urban heat island effect exacerbated during summer months.
“Climate change is a dagger aimed at the heart of our city, and extreme heat is the edge of the knife,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “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.”
Every year, hot summers cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat-stroke – all outcomes that disproportionately impact older adults and vulnerable populations. Extreme heat kills more New Yorkers than any other extreme weather event, and leads to an average of 450 heat-related emergency department visits, 150 hospital admissions, 13 heat-stroke deaths, as well as 115 deaths from natural causes exacerbated by extreme heat.
Rising temperatures, more frequent and longer-lasting heat events threaten the New York’s livability. The New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPPC) projects up to a 5.7°F increase in average city temperatures and a doubling of the number of days above 90°F by the 2050s. The NPCC also projects that heat waves in the city will increase in intensity and duration.
Cool Neighborhoods NYC is a comprehensive resiliency program aimed at reducing these heat-related health impacts and deaths, by lowering temperatures in heat-vulnerable neighborhoods, strengthening social networks, and improving quality of life for all New Yorkers. The program expands the City’s current heat reduction efforts, like NYC °CoolRoofs, and adds new initiatives like Be a Buddy NYC, and providing climate risk training for home health aides. The City will also work with health departments and other stakeholders across New York State to support an
expansion of the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to assist qualified households in paying utility bills related to the operation of air conditioners.
As part of Cool Neighborhoods NYC, the City announced an $82 million commitment to fund street tree plantings in neighborhoods in the South Bronx, Northern Manhattan, and Central Brooklyn. These areas have been identified as disproportionately vulnerable to heat-health risks, according to the City’s Heat Vulnerability Index, which combines metrics proven to be strong indicators of heat risk. The City will also invest $16 million to support planting trees in parks and an additional $7 million to support forest restoration across the five boroughs. The City has identified a priority list of 2.7 million square feet of private- and public- roofs in the heat-vulnerable areas of the South Bronx, Central Brooklyn, and Northern Manhattan to conduct strategic outreach to owners and target the successful NYC °CoolRoofs program over the coming years.
Additional key Cool Neighborhoods NYC components include:
Launching Be a Buddy NYC: The City is launching a two-year, multi-stakeholder pilot to promote community cohesion. Through partnerships with community-based organizations, Be a Buddy NYC will develop and test strategies for protecting at-risk New Yorkers from the health impacts of extreme heat in the South Bronx, Central Brooklyn, and Northern Manhattan.
Partnering with home health aides: The City, in partnership with three home care agencies, will promote heat and climate-health information and engage home health aides as key players in building climate resiliency. The agencies will use their continuing education curriculum to educate nearly 8,000 home health aides on climate-related risks and to recognize and address early signs of heat-related illness.
Partnering with news reporters: The City will host a workshop and will conduct outreach to health and medical reporters and meteorologists to improve the way that New Yorkers receive crucial information about heat and the protective actions they need to take to stay safe indoors, and to encourage caregivers and social contacts to check on vulnerable neighbors, friends and family.
Collecting innovative data: The City will invest in the collection of baseline neighborhood-level temperature information to assess current risk, more effectively target new initiatives in the most heat-vulnerable neighborhoods, and in the long-term, provide baseline data to accurately measure the impact of interventions.
Cool Neighborhoods NYC is led by the Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency and will be implemented in partnerships with NYC Parks, the Health Department, Small Business Services, Emergency Management, and members of the private sector.
“Adapting New York City for the risks of climate change is one of the great challenges of our time,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director for Climate Policy & Program and the Chief Resilience Officer for the NYC Mayor’s Office. “Higher temperatures and frequent heat waves, in addition to storms and rising sea levels, present an enormous challenge to the city and its most vulnerable residents. That’s why today’s commitment to the Cool Neighborhoods NYC program will ensure New Yorkers have the tools to better protect themselves and their neighbors from rising temperatures. This unprecedented investment in heat mitigation is a critical part of our OneNYC program to ensure that New York City is ready for the risks of the future.”
“As we observe high temperature records being broken year after year, the City must take action against the growing threats we face from climate change and extreme heat,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency. “Heat kills more New Yorkers than any other natural hazard, and Cool Neighborhoods NYC is a crucial step towards reducing heat-related health impacts and deaths in neighborhoods at the highest risk. Through a combination of targeted new investments, stronger community partnerships, and innovative new initiatives, we are delivering on our OneNYC commitments to build a more resilient and equitable city.”
“A tree planted today is a promise made to – and as stewards of an urban forest 2.6-million trees strong, NYC Parks is focused on making good on the promise of a sustainable future. In the coming decades, a strong and healthy tree canopy will provide crucial protection against a warming climate. Cool Neighborhoods NYC gives us the resources we need, providing more than $100 million for strategic street tree and park tree planting,” said Mitchell Silver, NYC Parks Commissioner
“As global temperatures keep rising to record highs each year, New Yorkers are more vulnerable to extreme heat," said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “In our city, most heat-related deaths happen behind closed doors in homes without air conditioning. These deaths are preventable. The evidence-based actions our city is taking in the face of a changing climate are needed more than ever in the absence of federal leadership. Cool Neighborhoods NYC is a wonderful example of how local government, communities and residents can work together to make all New Yorkers safer today and in the future.”
“As temperatures rise during the summer months, the Cool Neighborhoods NYC initiative is helping combat extreme heat and reducing our carbon footprint,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “As part of this initiative, our successful NYC °Cool Roofs program is installing reflective coatings on millions of square feet of roofing across the city. These coatings lower building temperatures, reduce energy consumption, and help cut carbon emissions.”
“Extreme heat is deadly, and our dense urban environment that traps and absorbs heat creates a dangerous situation for vulnerable New Yorkers,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “The new programs included in Cool Neighborhoods NYC will help reduce the risks from extreme heat, and New Yorkers can also help us beat the heat this summer by taking preparedness steps like drinking lots of water and checking in on family members, neighbors, and friends when temperatures rise.”
“New York City is investing $1.5 billion to build green infrastructure across the five boroughs that will improve the health of local waterways while also cleaning the air and lowering summer temperatures,” said Vincent Sapienza, Acting Commissioner, Department of Environmental Protection. “Importantly, the increased tree canopy and vegetation in our green infrastructure will improve air quality in neighborhoods with less than average street tree counts and higher than average rates of asthma among young people.”
“The Cool Neighborhoods NYC plan to have home health aides identify at-risk older adults is a wise decision that will save lives, as many olders without air conditioning may choose to stay home during heat emergencies rather than go to cooling centers. The plan exemplifies how we can tap into this existing network of aides to better identify and address heat-related illnesses,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado.