Why Cities Need to Prepare for Climate Migration

Gillian Gaynair
Date of Publication: 
February, 2022
Source Organization: 
Urban Institute

Wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes – all are becoming more frequent and displacing more and more people. Tens of millions of Americans could be forced to relocate because of climate-related natural disasters, according to the authors of Why Cities Need to Prepare for Climate Migration. The report emphasizes the serious threat of climate change to migration patterns, looks at the example of Puerto Ricans fleeing to Orlando after Hurricane Maria, and identifies steps cities can take to prepare for an influx of climate-displaced people. Although all U.S. communities need to be ready to take in evacuees, the report finds that few are currently prepared to do so. Looking at the Orlando region’s response to a 2017 immigrant influx from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island, the report notes that more than 65 leaders from government, businesses and nonprofits began working together to provide evacuees with a wide range of services, with the biggest challenge being housing. These leaders recommended that communities develop comprehensive plans before disasters occur, including allowing higher-density housing to increase housing affordability. In addition, the leaders stressed the importance of understanding evacuees’ cultures. An evacuee profiled in the report echoes the need for cultural understanding and highlights the help she received from the city of Orlando’s Hispanic Office for Local Assistance. (Ellen Balleisen for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Gaynair, G. (2022, February). Why Cities Need to Prepare for Climate Migration. Urban Institute. https://housingmatters.urban.org/feature/why-cities-need-prepare-climate...