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Air Conditioning, Heat Vulnerability, and Racial Equity



Over five July days, the 1995 Chicago heatwave killed 739 people, most of whom were elderly, poor, and/or Blacki. 75% of those who died lacked air-conditioning. Twenty-five years later, heat waves have nearly doubled in frequency, a different pandemic has arrived in the form of Covid-19, and again, the same poor, elderly, and Black residents are left to suffer the most. Studies of cities across the country, from Berkeley, California to Richmond, Virginia, have found that households of color are more likely to live in the hottest parts of the city – the result of decades of discrimination in housing policies.

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