If you ask college students in the Bronx if they’re thinking about how climate change might affect them or their communities in the future, it’s not uncommon to get an indifferent response.
“I hear about it, but I just don’t focus much on it because I like to focus on myself right now," said Algie Serpo, 19.
“I haven’t really thought too forward about it honestly,” said Justin Vasquez, 26.
But a new report shows that by 2050, residents in the areas surrounding Bronx Community College could face displacement due to flooding in the future, not because it’s a low-lying area that would be burdened by severe coastal flooding, but because it’s not.
“We analyzed where the most vulnerable communities are for climate change, where they might move to and who might move first,” explained Amy Chester, managing director of Rebuild by Design. “So we’re able to look at both income and the price of rent and their vulnerability to climate change and we were able to predict that people who have the means would likely move first and where they might move to.”
The report, Climate Displacement in NYC: Making Space for our Neighbors, was co-created with global actuarial firm Millman. Chester said of the 1.7 million people who live in or adjacent to the city’s 100-year floodplain, low-income New Yorkers face the highest risk of displacement. Low-income residents who live inland will face devastating pressures as well.
“What we found is that up to 40% of New Yorkers are at risk for either primary or secondary displacement,” Chester said.
The report’s interactive map shows areas like University Heights, Fordham and Morrisania mostly shaded in light purple, illustrating areas where flood-impacted New Yorkers with deeper pockets may look to relocate.
Chester said the report serves as a guide for city, state and federal leaders to create policy to protect long-term residents in these neighborhoods from being forced out in the future.
“We can actually plan to make sure that we can make space for our neighbors in the same neighborhoods to give people options to stay instead of being displaced outside of their neighborhood or outside of New York,” Chester said.