Podcast

The Bronx fire underscores America’s energy insecurity crisis

What New York’s deadliest fire in decades tells us about the role of housing in energy inequity.

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In January, fire tore through a large affordable-housing development in the Bronx, killing 17 people. Officials were quick to blame the Twin Parks North West fire on a space heater and broken fire door. But the root cause of the fire runs much deeper. 

America is facing an energy insecurity crisis. One-third of U.S. households have trouble paying their energy bills, with energy costs falling most heavily on communities of color. Black households, in particular, spend 43 percent more on energy than do white households; Hispanic households spend 20 percent more. These inequities stem from a long history of racist housing policies and disinvestment in public housing. 

When people are struggling to make ends meet, they resort to stopgap measures to get by. For residents of affordable-housing developments such as Twin Parks North West, that often means turning to space heaters to keep warm in the winter. 

This week, we take a look at the often-deadly consequences of America’s energy divide and how we can solve it. 

Guests: Diana Hernández is an associate professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University. (You can read her op-ed on the fire’s root causes here.)

The Carbon Copy is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

The Carbon Copy is supported by Atmos Financial. Atmos offers FDIC-insured checking and savings accounts that only invest in climate-positive assets like renewables, green construction and regenerative agriculture. Modern banking for climate-conscious people. Get an account in minutes at joinat​mos​.com.

The Carbon Copy is also supported by Climate Positive, a podcast from Hannon Armstrong, the first U.S. public company solely dedicated to investing in climate solutions. The Climate Positive podcast features candid conversations with the leaders, innovators and changemakers driving our climate-positive future. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.