A comprehensive study was completed this month for the Municipal Housing Authority for the City of Yonkers (MHACY) that puts the agency in the vanguard of climate resiliency planning in the region. Developed in partnership with the nonprofit Groundwork Hudson Valley and leading urban design firm, Mark K. Morrison Landscape Architecture, it lays out a far-reaching plan for promoting environmental resiliency in one of the region’s largest affordable housing systems. The proposed work will benefit hundreds of low-income people by capturing rainwater and cooling the landscapes of high-rises, townhouses, and modest apartment buildings across the MHACY system.
The Hudson Valley region is expecting more intense rainfall over the next decade and many more heat waves due to climate change. Research shows that people living in low-income areas are more vulnerable to climate risks due to historic redlining policies that left them in more environmentally hazardous neighborhoods. “It is essential that we act quickly and in the smartest way possible to prepare for these threats from climate change,” says MHACY President and CEO Wilson Kimball, adding “Over the last five years, we’ve invested over $800 million dollars to modernize MHACY buildings and improve the system’s overall efficiency. These efforts did not address most outdoor landscape issues, however, including erosion, heat, and stormwater concerns. The new study is our first blueprint for getting us ahead of the curve on these pressing issues.”
The study lays out an ambitious plan to retrofit ten MHACY properties over the next few years. And with interventions across Yonkers, it will significantly reduce stormwater pollution into four major waterways – the Hudson, Saw Mill, Sprain, and Bronx Rivers. Funding was requested this month to make the $2.0 million plan a reality from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation. Brigitte Griswold, Groundwork’s Executive Director, who is leading a broader Climate Safe Neighborhoods Initiative for the city, notes that “The new study will have a major long-term impact once it is carried out. Moving this forward in such a thoughtful way is a testament to MHACY’s leadership and vision to promote sustainable communities.” Groundwork’s youth leadership program, the Green Team, will help implement the plan once it is funded. Many of its participants live within or near MHACY properties and will benefit from the creation of green jobs to plant trees and build bioswales to reduce flooding.