Centering Equity to Address Extreme Heat

Organizational Author: The Urban Institute

Resource Author: Rebecca Marx, Jorge Morales-Burnett

Date Published: 02/16/22

Resource Type: Publication

Extreme heat is the deadliest weather-related event in the United States and, until now, has been one of the least talked about. Although extreme heat has tremendous implications for people everywhere, its impacts are especially felt in urban areas both small and large, where denser concentrations of pavement, buildings, and other materials retain heat. Its impact is not felt equally across communities. The legacy of racist housing policies and historic disinvestment in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color leaves low-income populations and people of color both more likely to live in hotter neighborhoods and less likely to have access to resources to cope with extreme temperatures. As such, extreme heat cannot be addressed without considering equity. Without an intentional focus on equity, inequities of the past may be overlooked or made worse, and well-meaning plans may have unintended consequences for the most vulnerable community members.