As many as 24,500 affordable housing units in the United States are projected to be exposed to coastal flooding by 2050, according to a report released Tuesday by University of California scientists.
“Flooding can damage buildings and be very disruptive to the residents who live in them. Even low levels of flooding can damage belongings, disrupt electrical equipment, and potentially expose residents to contaminated water and mold,” said Lara Cushing, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “Many cities are already struggling with an affordable housing crisis. Our study highlights that climate change will only make this worse unless significant investments are made.”
The report, published by the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that communities expected to be at the most risk include Corte Madera, Foster City, and Suisun City — all in the San Francisco Bay area — and multiple coastal regions in the northeastern United States, from New England to the Delaware and Chesapeake bays.
More than 10,000 affordable units nationwide were projected to face repeated flooding four times per year or more by 2050, according to researchers.
The number of affordable housing units estimated to be at risk is triple the number just two decades ago, researchers said.
“The findings make clear a reality about climate change,” said Rachel Morello-Frosch, UC Berkeley professor of public health and environmental science, policy and management. “The impact of sea level rise, for example, will fall often on vulnerable residents many of whom are already living at or below the poverty line. We need to preserve and increase the supply of resilient affordable housing in coastal areas to ensure community resilience against the impacts of sea level rise and increased flooding events.”
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