Home truths

Read the full story in Q Magazine.

Those who study sustainable housing are conscious of how a Green New Deal could not only control and manage the climate crisis, but help mitigate America’s socioeconomic crisis as well. According to his most recent publication “A Green New Deal for Public Housing to Deliver Racial, Economic, and Climate Justice,” Daniel Aldana Cohen, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley, asserts that a Green New Deal would “deliver massive health and economic benefits to disadvantaged communities.” With plans to “invest $119 billion to $172 billion in green retrofits that include all needed capital repairs,” this plan for green housing would not only dramatically reduce carbon emissions but also improve “health, safety and comfort.” The plan would reduce annual carbon emissions by roughly 5.6 metric tons, which is “the equivalent of taking over 1.2 million cars off the road,” while also reducing public water bills by up to 30% and energy bills by 70%. Not only is the plan cheaper annually and radically more environmentally friendly; it also has the potential to “create up to 240,723 jobs nationally across multiple sectors” due to the redirection of government funds toward a modern, retrofit economy. These jobs would benefit low-income areas, which struggle with both high unemployment rates and the impacts of environmental racism.

In addition to his research, Cohen collaborates with the Climate + Community Project, an organization that explores the impacts of environmental racism and aims to release briefs that will “make recommendations … that center the needs of [low-income communities], expand democracy at all scales of governance, and facilitate flexible implementation.” According to this project, green housing, an idea that has been mentioned but not successfully implemented by the political left, is not only an important step toward addressing climate change, but an essential one for the planet — particularly those who are currently living in low-income housing. “We know how to do this,” Cohen argues, but getting the public to really understand the importance of housing as a part of a broader agenda of climate justice remains a challenge for its advocates.

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