Yes, Heat Waves Do Feel Hotter In Low-Income Neighborhoods
It's not your imagination. Summer heat often feels hotter in low-income neighborhoods than it does in wealthier ones.
Researchers at UC Davis looked at the 20 largest metropolitan areas in the Southwest and found that the poorest neighborhoods were on average four degrees hotter than the wealthiest neighborhoods. Why the thermal inequity? Wealthier areas tend to have more green spaces, shade and energy-efficient buildings that keep them cooler.
In California, the biggest disparities were found in the Inland Empire and Palm Springs, where low-income neighborhoods were six to seven degrees hotter than other communities. The researchers also found disparities by race.
"We looked at every racial demographic, and by far, the Latinx community unfortunately faced the highest thermal inequity. It was not even close," says Jake Dialesandro, the lead author of the study.
As climate change accelerates, some researchers are urging policy-makers to take action to reduce energy costs and prevent heat-related sickness and death in lower-income communities.