Kreisman Housing Law & Policy Symposium

Two major crises of our time—climate change and a lack of affordable housing—seriously challenge our ability to create cities that are both livable and equitable. The goal of this year’s Kreisman Initiative for Housing Law and Policy Symposium on Housing and Climate Change is to better understand the connections between them: what are the overlapping causes, effects, and policy responses that are essential to addressing these existential dilemmas? What are we missing by not drawing distinct linkages as we try to address both emergencies?


Watch video from the event.


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Discussion points

Several points framed the “Housing & Climate Change” discussion:

  • Historical events and practices contributed to where we are today. Housing in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are disproportionately affected by climate change. In particular, the practice of redlining pushed many communities of color into low-lying areas with substandard infrastructure, which now makes them especially susceptible to climate related disasters: floods, storms, droughts, and heat waves.
  • The housing sector is a significant driver of climate change. Residential buildings account for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. A lot of housing is extremely energy inefficient, and much of it is located in poor neighborhoods. In addition, the context of housing—in car-dependent places, with no transit access—not only increases the cost of living due to added transportation costs but is a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The housing sector is on the front line of climate change effects. Climate related disasters are creating housing instability and threatening a major source of generational wealth. Racism in housing is exasperated because of the disproportionate impacts of climate change on communities of color. Green gentrification is an increasingly visible phenomenon, where low-income communities are pushed out by wealthier population seeking safer locations. Rising insurance rates due to climate change are an increasing burden on low-and middle-income populations, and in particular affordable housing developers.

Schedule – May 2, 2024

8:00 – 8:45 Continental Breakfast

8:45 – 9:00 Introduction

Christopher R. Berry William J. and Alicia Townsend Friedman Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy and Director, Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, University of Chicago

Emily Talen Professor of Urbanism and Director of Urbanism Lab, Division of Social Sciences, University of Chicago

Video by Daniel Kind University of Chicago College, ’26

9:00 – 10:00 Opening Presentation

Dana Bourland author of Gray to Green Communities and senior vice president of environment and strategic initiatives at the JPB Foundation

10:00 – 10:15 Break

10:15 – 11:30 Historical Context: How Did We Get Here?

Vivek Shandas Professor of Geography, Portland State University

Carlos Martin Project Director, Remodeling Futures Program, Joint Center for Housing Studies Harvard University

Moderator: April Jackson Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy, University of Illinois Chicago

11:45 – 12:45 Lunch Presentation

Daniel Kammen Professor of Energy, University of California, Berkeley

Introduced by: Sabina Shaikh Senior Instructional Professor in the Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization (CEGU) and the College, the University of Chicago

1:00 – 2:15 Climate Change and Housing: Cause and Effect

Sean Becketti Principal, Elliott Bay Analytics

Jesse Keenan Favrot II Associate Professor of Sustainable Real Estate and Urban Planning, School of Architecture, Tulane University

Moderator: Arianna Salazar Miranda Postdoctoral Fellow, Mansueto Institute of Urban Innovation & Division of Social Sciences, the University of Chicago

2:15 – 2:30 Break

2:30 – 3:45 Policy Solutions

Danielle Arigoni Managing Director for Policy and Solutions, National Housing Trust and author, Climate Resilience for an Aging Nation

Katharine Burgess Vice President of Land Use and Development, Smart Growth America

Marla Nelson Freeport Professorship in Urban & Public Affairs, Department of Planning and Urban Studies, University of New Orleans

Moderator: Robin Bartram Assistant Professor, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, & Practice, the University of Chicago

3:45 – 4:15 Closing Remarks

Chris Wheat Managing Director for Policy and Government Affairs, Sustainable Cities Fund

 4:30 Reception