Heat, Health, & Equity

Extreme Heat Resources for New York City
If you are living in New York City without air conditioning, click here to see if you are eligible for financial support to cover the cost and installation of an air conditioner or fan in your home. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, so act today because – with heat like this – funding for this program will likely run out soon, as it has for the last two years!

New York City also has a network of Cooling Centers open to the public free of charge. You can find the nearest Cooling Center here. You can find additional information, resources, and tips on how to stay cool via the City’s Beat the Heat webpage. The National Integrated Heat Health Information System has even more resources – from planning and preparing to staying safe – available at heat.gov. And if you scroll down this page, you can learn about the work we are doing to address extreme heat as well as find a host of other resources towards the bottom of the page.


2024 Extreme Heat Policy Agenda
Through our Heat, Health, & Equity initiative, WE ACT has been working to address the disparate impact of extreme heat through mitigation and adaptation. This year, as one of the of the co-founders of the New York State Extreme Heat Coalition, we released a joint Extreme Heat Policy Agenda with recommended actions at both the city and state levels.


The Challenge: New York is Getting Hotter and Residents of Color are Hardest Hit
Because of climate change, New York City summers are getting hotter and the heat is lasting longer. According to a report released in 2017, there are about 13 heatstroke deaths per year, over 100 deaths “from natural causes exacerbated by extreme heat” and over 450 “heat-related emergency department visits” in New York City. We know there is an injustice here, because 50 percent of the heat-related deaths in New York City are Black/African American people, even though they make up only 25 percent of the city’s population. New York City may see an average temperature increase of 5.7°F, including a doubling of days above 90°F, by the 2050s according to the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC). Parts of Northern Manhattan are particularly affected by this increase, as shown in the image to the right (source: NYC DOHMH, 2020). This is not just because of the temperature increase, but because a high percentage of Northern Manhattan residents are low income, and at least a third live in homes with maintenance deficiencies or in poorly weatherized old homes, with issues such as leaks, cracks, or holes. These factors make it more difficult to avoid the heat and properly cool the home, and make it more difficult to access help and prepare for extreme heat. Individuals without social connections, older adults, and people with disabilities or chronic illnesses are more likely to spend a lot of time at home in the heat and are more susceptible to illness or death during a heatwave.

The Solution: The Extreme Heat Coalition is Fighting for Policy Change
WE ACT has formed the Extreme Heat Coalition with a diverse group of environmental, housing, and social justice organizations. Together, we are advocating for protections serving low-income urban communities of color across New York State disproportionately burdened by extreme heat.

  • Support policy reform that addresses the City’s rising temperatures through equitable maintenance and expansion of green spaces.
  • Streamline access to energy efficiency and low emissions cooling technologies for low-income residents
    Strengthen the City’s emergency planning during extreme heat events.
  • Increase the utilization of and improve the services provided by New York City’s Cooling Center Program
  • Increase communication with vulnerable populations to raise awareness about extreme heat and its health impacts.
  • Increase green design and renewable energy production to reduce strain on the energy grid while expanding access to cooling.

We are also fighting to allow HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) funds to be used to convert homes to cleaner and more efficient forms of cooling, and to increase overall funding for cooling through weatherization and direct cooling funding, such as the purchase, installation, and operation of air conditioners. We are also working to promote awareness, increase ease of access, and the overall improvement of New York City’s Cooling Center Program. To help achieve these goals, WE ACT will continue to foster growth and engagement in our Climate Justice Working Group, including educational workshops and advocacy training open to all members of the community.




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