NEWS Climate Change, hurricanes make the affordable housing crisis even worse
\Teresa Wiltz, USA Today, for the original, click here.
Last year, right before Hurricane Florence hit New Bern, a small riverfront city along the North Carolina coast, Martin Blaney rushed to the public housing complex he runs, banging on doors, yelling: “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate!”
When the winds settled and the rains ended in New Bern, Blaney’s nearby offices were under 6 feet of water. Even worse: Nearly half of New Bern’s public housing stock – 108 buildings, all in a flood zone, out of 218 – was under water, too. Twelve buildings were damaged beyond repair. (A nearby public housing complex for seniors, located above the flood zones, was unscathed.)
“We didn’t know the destructive force of deep water,” said Blaney, the executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of New Bern. “It blew us away.
“All of a sudden, you’ve got 108 households that need to have a roof over their head.”
Hurricane season in full swing
Hurricane season is underway – and storms that make landfall might further exacerbate the nation’s shortage of affordable housing, housing experts say. A new report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies said finding enough money to make housing sturdier and fix the damage done by increasingly frequent and severe storms is “an urgent housing challenge for the nation.”