NLIHC and the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) have endorsed the “Stay Cool Act” (H.R. 7949) introduced by Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ). The bill – cosponsored by nearly 20 Democratic members of Congress – would address the impact of heat waves on those most vulnerable to extreme heat and includes provisions to include air conditioning as a covered utility in public housing and create and implement safe residential temperature standards for federally assisted rental dwelling units. The bill would also create grant initiatives to establish senior check-in programs to be used during extreme heat events, as well as public greenspaces and cooling centers in overburdened communities.
Heat waves present a very real threat to low-income individuals, who often struggle with chronic health issues that are exacerbated by the effects of prolonged heat exposure, which can lead to death. In addition, individuals experiencing homelessness are particularly susceptible to heat impacts, as they lack steady access to water and are often prevented from visiting spaces with air conditioning. The effects are magnified by the lack of tree cover or greenspaces in many areas with housing affordable to people with low incomes, leading to urban heat islands that subject residents to even higher heat. Research indicates that an average of 12,000 heat-related deaths occur each year.
“Extreme heat is killing our communities, and it will continue to worsen with climate change,” said Representative Watson Coleman in a press release announcing the bill’s introduction. “For many Americans, living through unexpected heat emergencies is not simply an inconvenience or nuisance, it is a life-threatening natural disaster – worsened by climate change – that warrants action by the federal government. While we must act to combat the causes of climate change, we cannot ignore the impacts people are already facing. The “Stay Cool Act” helps us to better understand and address the immediate impacts of extreme heat emergencies. It treats extreme heat with the urgency that it deserves. Extreme heat is already the deadliest weather-related disaster we face and will only get worse as our planet warms. It’s time we took steps to mitigate the impacts of extreme heat to save lives.”
Read a press release about the bill at: https://bit.ly/3Oe8Kz0
Read the text of the “Stay Cool Act” at: https://bit.ly/3HuDIRo