The Housing Crisis Has Americans Worried — and Climate Change Is Making It Worse

Soaring home insurance rates are one of the first monthly “climate change bills” Americans will have to pay.

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Welcome to Climate on the Ballot, the weekly elections email from Covering Climate Now’s editors. Our goal to help you and your newsroom make the climate crisis an integral part of your coverage of this year’s elections — local, state, and national. Every week, we’ll pass along a topic, offer up some advice on how to integrate it into your coverage, and share inspiring work that you and other outlets are doing. 

Lea la versión en español de “El clima en la boleta.”

This Week: Housing

A lack of affordable housing and rising insurance rates are making housing a voting issue this year. And the housing squeeze is getting worse as climate impacts are increasingly felt across the country. Some experts are calling rising home insurance rates the first “climate change bill” for consumers.

Reporting Ideas

  • Insurance companies are raising rates in reaction to climate change, and some parts of the US are now “essentially uninsurable.” Talk to local insurance agents about trends they’re seeing and to homeowners who may be stuck with housing they can’t sell.
  • Look into state government–backed home insurance where you live, which could increasingly be the only option as commercial insurers pull back. Report on who ultimately foots the bill.
  • Understand how the housing stock is changing in your community. As seas rise, what’s happening to home prices? Who’s selling, and who’s buying? As heatwaves become more frequent and severe, learn which communities in your area are most protected by, for example, tree cover, and which are most vulnerable.
  • Twenty-eight extreme weather events in 2023 each incurred losses exceeding $1 billion, reports NOAA. Examine your community’s emergency preparedness plans to shelter people in case of an extreme weather event — especially as it relates to economically distressed communities. Ask candidates how they plan to protect people.

Take Inspiration

  • Dropped coverage and rising insurance premiums are turning home ownership into a nightmare, the Financial Times reports. When you can’t insure your home, reselling it becomes more difficult.
  • NPR looks at how, in the midst of a housing shortage, some communities are considering bans on building in climate vulnerable areas.
  • In addition to climate-fueled wildfires and hurricanes, S&P Global Market Intelligence analyzes another type of weather driving up insurance claims and risk: hailstorms.
  • The New York–based nonprofit First Street, which reports on climate risks, finds that insurance rates on a quarter of all homes in the US are currently underpriced and likely to rise. See how AP reported the research.

Spotlight Piece

When covering elections, it’s easy to focus on the horserace rather than what’s at stake. In this Floodlight News piece, reporter Terry L. Jones examines the practical implications of the election of Louisiana governor Jeff Landry, who has called climate change a hoax and who, since his election, has staffed his administration with officials tied to the oil and gas industry.

“While the United States and other countries have vowed to move away from fossil fuels,” Jones writes, “Landry is running in the opposite direction.”

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