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A Parallel Problem: Climate change-driven housing crises are being witnessed throughout the nation. . In California, unaffordable home prices that have been compounded by wildfires that have destroyed housing, causing a further shortage. This drove some Californians to seek affordable housing in Oregon, only to be met by wildfires and subsequent homelessness.
Shannon King, who left the Bay Area to escape soaring housing costs, moved to a mobile home park in Oregon, where she hoped to raise her children. That park was destroyed in a fire, and King now fears that developers will try to use the land where her home once stood to build trendier more expensive housing. The median rent in Oregon has increased by 14% in recent years, and those displaced by the fires, who have already suffered a financial burden, often don’t have anywhere else to go.
Even those who have homeowners or renters insurance, or received financial aid through FEMA or other programs, may face impossibly low housing availability in their areas. In King’s case, the area has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country at just 2%.
Growing Inequality: Climate change and housing instability continue to disproportionately impact people of color and low-income people. When climate crises strike, it is often low-income housing that is impacted the most; historical discrimination, redlining, and segregation have relegated vulnerable groups to flood and fire-prone areas and left them with outdated infrastructure.
In Oregon, Phoenix City Councilor Sarah Westover said, “it’s like this fire went after the poorest and most vulnerable people in our community,” and emphasized that, “if we want people to stay, we have to take action now to make sure there’s transitional housing…We can’t put our tax base above the needs of the people who live here.”
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on this issue in BP Plc v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, which could determine whether or not oil companies are held accountable for climate change damages to cities and states.
Why This Matters: If SCOTUS rules in favor of BP, future climate litigation will likely be fought in federal courts, which experts say are “less responsive to expansive legal theories,” and thus less likely to rule in favor of these innovative new climate cases based on state law. Whoever wins this case will have a leg up in future climate litigation.
This week we sat down with Dr. Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University to talk about his new book The New Climate War in which he examined a century of history to break down science misinformation tactics deployed by industries like tobacco and oil and gas that were used to […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer After being forced to make major cuts to California’s environmental programs just eight months ago, last week, Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a $227 billion budget deal that would bolster a set of environmental initiatives. The proposal designates $4.1 billion to fight forest fires, reduce smog, and increase the […]
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