Mapping Heat Vulnerability of Homeless Residents and Accessibility to Cooling Centers in Los Angeles, California

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Amity Doolittle
Essay Abstract: 
Extreme heat, one effect of climate change, has become a public health concern throughout the world, especially in major urban areas. Extreme heat has uneven health impacts across populations and can exacerbate existing health conditions. Homeless residents are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat given their limited access to shelter and resources. In this study, I focus on heat vulnerability of homeless residents in Los Angeles, California and assess barriers to addressing heat vulnerability of homeless residents. I conduct interviews with urban public servants and researchers who are working on heat vulnerability. I also conduct spatial analysis to identify areas of high vulnerability. I find that public areas that serve many homeless residents, such as public libraries, transit stops, etc., should provide more resources for homeless residents. Additionally, homeless service providers should be integrated into emergency planning. The needs of homeless residents and other marginalized groups have been historically excluded from environmental and emergency planning. Policymakers can use climate action plans as an opportunity to address systemic inequality and build climate resilience for all residents.