New York City Council

Extreme heat is the deadliest impact of climate change, and communities of color are the most impacted. For example, according to the city’s own data, 50 percent of the heat-related deaths in New York City are Black/African American people, even though they made up only 25 percent of the city’s population at the time. Additionally, the Department of Health’s most recent Heat-Related Mortality Report, “among those who died from heat stress, the place of death was most often an un-air-conditioned home.” Indoor temperatures fluctuate far less than outdoor temperatures, so during a heat wave residents without air conditioning are likely to be exposed to unsafe temperatures and humidity for long periods of time.

Putting the sole burden of cooling on tenants during the summer months is not working. The solution is clear. Join us in telling the New York City Council that we need action to mandate a maximum indoor temperature.

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To: New York City Council
From: [Your Name]

Dear New York City Council,

We, the undersigned New Yorkers, are writing to express my support for legislation mandating a maximum indoor temperature. At the time of writing this message (July 26th, 2023), up to 275 million Americans are in the midst of a heat advisory. Humidity during increasingly dangerous and frequent heat waves like this one can be so severe, that fans are inadequate to help maintain a safe and stable body temperature. New York’s climate could resemble that of Virginia or South Carolina as early as 2040. The most immediate and accessible remedy for these sweltering summers is air conditioning.

Everyone in New York City deserves and needs access to air conditioners, heat pumps, or other forms of energy efficient cooling. Extreme heat is killing my neighbors more often than any other climate impact and disproportionately straining the health of people of color, children, elders, and people with pre-existing conditions or disabilities every year. Building owners are already legally required to prevent apartments from falling below 62 degrees. It’s only fair to protect heat vulnerable tenants the same way. Landlords have to share the responsibility of cooling with tenants during the summer months. The current model has failed to prevent needless deaths. Our laws must catch up to the reality of the climate crisis. We need climate informed public health and housing policy. Please help keep us safe. Thank you for your time and consideration.