Friday, October 3, 2014

New report connects climate change to New York City’s housing affordability crisis

News from NHC's family of members
by Radiah Shabazz, National Housing Conference

A new report released last month by NHC member Center for New York City Neighborhoods examines how increased flood risks and rising flood insurance premiums threaten housing affordability for over 400,000 people living in neighborhoods along the city’s coastline and in neighborhoods that have a high risk for flooding. The report was unveiled Sept. 18 at the Center’s event, Equitable Resiliency in New York City: How Rising Flood Insurance Costs are Threatening Housing Affordability in NYC’s Flood-prone Neighborhoods.

Rising Tides, Rising Costs, reveals the increasing intersection of climate change and housing affordability in New York by detailing how increasing costs for flood insurance will threaten the stability of many homes and the financial security of residents living in them. Many flood-prone areas are still recovering from damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2008 and as the risk of flooding increases, so does the need for and price of insurance coverage, leaving costs unaffordable for many long-time residents.

“Rising sea levels and rising flood insurance rates put the safety, stability, and financial security of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in peril,” Center for New York City Neighborhood’s Executive Director Christie Peale said in a press release. “New York has more residents living in high risk flood zones than any other city in the United States. The report we released today is only the beginning of our work as we engage with government at all levels to create a more resilient home for all New Yorkers.”

Heightened costs for homeowners’ flood insurance is one concern expressed by the SmarterSafer Coalition, of which NHC is a member, earlier this year when Congress proposed to delay insurance reform. The coalition sent a letter to Speaker Boehner in January recommending changes to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, adopted by Congress in 2012 to resolve the $24 billion debt of the National Flood Insurance Program. In the letter, SmarterSafer advocated for reforming Biggert-Waters to address increasing concerns about flood insurance affordability by targeting subsidies in the National Flood Insurance Program to those who truly need it.

Rising Tides, Rising Costs offers several policy recommendations to combat rising costs including community planning for long-term resiliency, funding for buy-out options and new programs to help elevate homes in neighborhoods where flooding is high risk. 

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