City’s Heat-Vulnerable Neighborhoods Need More Cooling Centers, Comptroller Says

Queens had the fewest number of cooling centers based on population density with only five for every 100,000 people, while Manhattan had seven, an analysis by City Comptroller Brad Lander’s office found. East Flatbush was the neighborhood with the worst access to cooling centers based on vulnerability.

Jeanmarie Evelly

An open fire hydrant in Brooklyn.

Neighborhoods with a high risk of heat vulnerabilities have inequitable access to cooling centers, according to a report conducted by City Comptroller Brad Lander’s office, which looked at conditions during the recent heat wave from July 19 to 25. It was released Thursday as New York City entered another stretch of scorching temperatures.

The city has hundreds of cooling centers—public spaces, such as libraries, community centers and schools, equipped with air conditioning and access to drinking water. But in some communities, access is few and far between, and hours of operation are limited.

Queens had the fewest number of cooling centers based on population density with only five for every 100,000 people, while Manhattan had seven, the comptroller’s analysis found.

Lander’s office also looked at neighborhoods with the greatest need for such centers and found a disparity. Some neighborhoods with the highest heat vulnerability index scoring—a 4 or 5 out of 5—had even fewer centers. The heat vulnerability index, developed by New York State, was calculated using environmental characteristics, such as land cover, as well as socioeconomic data, including the poverty level, age and race of the population.

Leave a Comment