Comptroller: At least half of NYC cooling centers were listed as closed during weekend of July heatwave

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Comptroller: At least half of NYC cooling centers were listed as closed during weekend of July heatwave


Amid another upcoming onslaught of oppressive weather, Lander said the city should immediately expand cooling center hours on weekends: “It is something that can be done quickly and is not that expensive, and will save lives.”

Extreme heat is responsible for more deaths than any other weather-related event, according to the National Weather Service.

At least four New York City residents died as a result of the late July heat wave. Around 370 people citywide die from heat-related causes each year, according to the city’s health department.

The comptroller’s office found that, overall, two-thirds of the cooling centers did not have extended hours, meaning that fewer than 60 centers stayed open beyond their normal operating times. Moreover, 30% of the centers closed before 4 pm even though the hottest time of the day typically falls between 3 pm to 4 pm

The report also points out that senior centers, which make up nearly half of the cooling centers, are only open to those over age 60 — a restriction that leaves out other vulnerable New Yorkers.

And nearly a quarter — or 54 of the centers — were not accessible to those in wheelchairs.

The comptroller’s report also analyzed the location of the city’s cooling centers, along with their hours of access. It came up with a ranking of the 10 heat-vulnerable neighborhoods that were most underserved by cooling centers.

The Brooklyn neighborhood of East Flatbush topped the list with only 1.2 cooling centers per 100,000 people. It was followed by Elmhurst and Corona in Queens, which had 2.2 cooling centers per 100,000 people.

By comparison, the report noted that the Lower East Side and Chinatown had similar population sizes to East Flatbush, but 11 cooling centers per 100,000 people.

Brownsville, another Brooklyn neighborhood, was found to have the highest cooling centers per capita, with 17.3 cooling stations per 100,000 people.

The report offered a list of remedies for the city, beginning with expanding the number of cooling centers and their hours of operation. Additionally, it said the city should consider building so-called “cooling stations” equipped with outdoor fans, overhead water sprays, and seating. It pointed to a temporary version installed near a South Bronx library in 2020.



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