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Social Justice

"The most vulnerable among us - the old, young, impoverished, and ethnic minority populations - have historically faced the brunt of the impacts from disasters."
(Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment, Draft of Climate Hazards Summary Report August 16, 2020) 

Erie County's Climate Hazards Summary Report for August of 2022, notes that climate change will not affect everyone equally.  The county strongly urges municipalities throughout the region to consider the issues of equity and environmental justice when assessing the impacts of climate hazards. One of the concerns that accompanies the potential of WNY becoming a “climate oasis” is that it could create “climate gentrification” as more and more people move to the region and property values rise. This makes it more difficult for those of low income to own homes in these higher cost markets. Currently, home values are rising faster in Buffalo than anywhere else in the country, including New York City, and the Town of Aurora and Village of East Aurora are no exception to this pattern.  (Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment, Draft of Climate Hazards Summary Report August 16, 2020) 

Social Vulnerability-

Social vulnerability describes a community’s ability to prepare for and respond to the stress of hazardous events, including natural disasters.  While the wealthy are able to move to higher ground or to a more resilient location, some of the most vulnerable people without the means to move— such as the poor or elderly— become trapped.  As people abandon a community, there is less of a tax base to pay for social services, and those who are left behind, need public support.  They suffer more as they become increasingly desperate. The disparity between rich and poor and their ability or inability to deal with climate change can create even more social division than exists now.

Social vulnerability assessments of Erie County suggest relatively high vulnerability near and around downtown Buffalo, but also in the communities southwest of the city and in rural areas including the Town of Aurora.  Accessibility to area hospital emergency departments is also relatively low for our rural communities.

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