Community Forum: Extreme Heat and its Impact on Public Health

Candida Rodriguez, Groundwork Hudson Valley’s Director of Community Relations explains the connection between redlining and urban heat islands at a community forum.

Groundwork Hudson Valley and the Yonkers YMCA hosted its first joint community forum of the year for the Spanish-speaking community. The forum was centered on the connections between health, extreme heat, and environmental policies. 

The event took place on Saturday, February 25, 2023 at Riverfront Library in downtown Yonkers. Dialogues were held on climate change impacts on human health, access to green spaces and nutritious foods, the effect of urban heat islands across Yonkers’ communities, and the importance of community participation in relation to the design of environmental policies. 

Candida Rodriguez, Director of Community Relations at Groundwork Hudson Valley discussed how the climate crisis threatens to make our communities hotter and prone to flooding more than ever before. As well as the impact of historical racist housing policies and how, presently, certain neighborhoods are most vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat and flooding.

Andrés Molina, MD from St. Joseph’s Medical Center provided an in-depth explanation on how climate change impacts a wide-range of health outcomes. This included the most significant climate change impacts (rising temperatures, more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and increasing carbon dioxide levels), their effect on exposures, and the subsequent health outcomes as a result.

Climate effects on health. Graphic by the CDC, National Center for Environmental Health.

Luz Moreno, Yonkers YMCA Community Gardens Project Director, provided seedlings and soil for participants to take home and begin their at-home herb garden. Ms. Moreno emphasized the role green spaces, in particular, community gardens play in areas lacking enough trees and with limited access to nutritious, organic food. Community support and additional funding are needed to keep this resource available in climate-vulnerable communities. 

Ligia Gomez and Claudia Reyes, Groundwork Hudson Valley’s Climate Safe Yonkers Task Force Members.

Ligia Gomez and Claudia Reyes, Groundwork Hudson Valley’s Climate Safe Yonkers Task Force Members shared their story on their communities’ needs and how that drove them to get involved in this working group. They shared the importance of seeing more community members involved in environmental justice, especially in the implementation of the forthcoming Yonkers Climate Action Plan. Their message was clear – community engagement and participation should be at the forefront of environmental action. 

Special thanks to the Yonkers Public Library for providing the space for the event.

Leer en español.

Contact information

Candida Rodriguez

Director of Community Relations