The New York Times explored how exposure to extreme heat is one of the legacies of redlining. “On a hot summer’s day, the neighborhood of Gilpin quickly becomes one of the most sweltering parts of Richmond. There are few trees along the sidewalks to shield people from the sun’s relentless glare. More than 2,000 residents, mostly Black, live in low-income public housing that lacks central air conditioning. Many front yards are paved with concrete, which absorbs and traps heat. The ZIP code has among the highest rates of heat-related ambulance calls in the city. There are places like Gilpin all across the United States. In cities like Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Portland and New York, neighborhoods that are poorer and have more residents of color can be 5 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter in summer than wealthier, whiter parts of the same city. And there’s growing evidence that this is no coincidence. In the 20th century, local and federal officials, usually white, enacted policies that reinforced racial segregation in cities and diverted investment away from minority neighborhoods in ways that created large disparities in the urban heat environment. The consequences are being felt today... Across more than 100 cities, a recent study found, formerly redlined neighborhoods are today 5 degrees hotter in summer, on average, than areas once favored for housing loans, with some cities seeing differences as large as 12 degrees. Redlined neighborhoods, which remain lower-income and more likely to have Black or Hispanic residents, consistently have far fewer trees and parks that help cool the air. They also have more paved surfaces, such as asphalt lots or nearby highways, that absorb and radiate heat. “It’s uncanny how often we see this pattern,” said Vivek Shandas, a professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University and a co-author of the study. “It tells us we really need to better understand what was going on in the past to create these land-use patterns.” [Infographics fascinating, too.]
Today, thousands of people are gathering in Washington, DC, for the Get Your Knee Off Our Necks march, which was planned earlier this summer after the police killing of George Floyd, and also coincides with the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. ““Like those who marched before us, we are standing up and telling the police, telling lawmakers, telling the people and systems that have kept us down for years, ‘Get your knee off our necks.’” The Washington march comes days after Jacob Blake became the latest in a series of black people to suffer brutal treatment at the hands of police… The march will be matched by demonstrations in states which have a high Covid risk, NAN said, including in Montgomery, Alabama and Las Vegas, Nevada. The NAACP will also host a “virtual march”, the organization said… A group of protesters are due at the march who have walked all the way from Milwaukee to the nation’s capital for the event.”
Hurricane Laura struck the Gulf Coast this week, with evacuation and recovery efforts complicated by the coronavirus, financial precarity faced by residents, and a limited government response. “Louisiana is still under restrictions designed to cope with the coronavirus pandemic – such as a mask mandate – but in Lake Charles masks were nowhere to be seen on residents, rescue workers and even the soldiers on the crowded national guard convoys rolling through town. Near the town a chlorine plant erupted with thick, billowing smoke after being damaged by the storm. Authorities ordered people around the plant to stay in their homes with windows and doors shut. Laura has headed north of the state as a tropical storm after hitting the Louisiana coast with blasts of wind up to 150mph strong. Officials warned of “catastrophic conditions” and more than 600,000 people fled its path.”
The Mercury News reports on a San Jose task force “focused on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the city’s residents of color presented a list of recommendations Wednesday that include requiring businesses to pay for employees’ personal protective equipment, giving workers the right to return to their former jobs if they were laid off because of the pandemic, and more funding for direct rent assistance for families at risk of eviction. The 30 recommendations, which include expanding culturally competent and multilingual outreach, extending eviction protections and funding food delivery programs in hard-hit neighborhoods, were approved unanimously by the city council’s Rules and Open Government Committee. The full council will discuss the recommendations Sept. 1.”
Austin City Council voted unanimously to cut the police budget by one-third and redirect funding toward mental health supports, violence prevention, parks, food access, abortion access, and other social and community services.
Policies For Action hosted a conversation between Senator Cory Booker, Darrick Hamilton of P4A, and Kilolo Kijakazi of the Urban Institute to discuss how economic inequalities are exacerbating the harms of the pandemic for communities of color and how baby bonds could help bridge the racial wealth gap.