HEAT RESILIENCY IN LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES: A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF SPACE CONDITIONING POLICIES AND PROGRAMS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Abstract
Heat kills more people per year than the combined total of floods, storms, and lightning. California is expected to face increasingly warmer temperatures, as well as more frequent and longer heat waves that can endanger the health of the public, and in some cases, cause death. Low-income and disadvantaged communities are likely to suffer a disproportionate amount of those deaths during extreme heat events because this vulnerable population is challenged with adapting to extreme heat. One of the most readily available heat adaptation technologies is air conditioning (A/C). However, this technology that is so ubiquitous to most people, especially those with more affluence, is not readily available to some low-income populations in Southern California primarily due to its high purchase and installation costs. Using several public information sources, this Needs Assessment identified 231 vulnerable census tracts making up 290,489 households, in a four-county Southern California region for which a percentage likely doesn’t have A/C. Further, available federal, state, and local programs that offer A/C to income-qualified households were inventoried to determine if there was enough funding and enabling policies to directly install A/C in the targeted households. The Needs Assessment concludes that there is a funding gap of $326 million up to $2.2 billion in current programs that could address this need and ensure the identified vulnerable population has the adaptive capacity for extreme heat.
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