New York City's subway system in June 2020, after the peak of coronavirus cases in the state (Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit, NACLA)

EES Publishes; Dr.James Biles on “A Multi-scale Analysis of Urban Warming in Residential Areas of a Latin American City: The Case of Mérida, Mexico”

Dr. James Biles of EES and CCNY has just published an article with colleague Dave Lemberg (Western Michigan University): “A Multi-scale Analysis of Urban Warming in Residential Areas of a Latin American City: The Case of Mérida, Mexico” in the Journal of Planning Education and Research.
This study represents a novel attempt to analyze the relationship between Latin American city structure and residential-scale ambient temperatures. Using statistical analysis, we assess the relationship between the type of residential zone, vegetation coverage, and housing and lot characteristics and ambient temperatures in residential areas of a large, subtropical city. We find lower temperatures in two residential areas, as well as an association between vegetation coverage and in situ characteristics. We conclude that the factors contributing to urban warming are a legacy of the study area’s unique historical geography; consequently, policy recommendations must be place-specific, integrating meso, micro, and in situ factors.

Over the summer, in collaboration with a group of community-based organizations, he also carried out a rapid appraisal of the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on New York’s Latinx immigrant population, which was recently covered by NACLA (the /North American Congress: Reporting on the Americas since 1967/).
The study indicates that New York’s Latinx immigrants have experienced unemployment levels (69 percent) more than three times greater than the Latinx population in general. Fewer than one in 10 Latin American immigrant workers have managed to maintain their jobs and regular working hours. Nearly one quarter have seen their hours reduced. Since the vast minority of New York’s Latin American immigrant population is ineligible for temporary cash assistance and unemployment benefits, 56 percent of households report suffering a total loss of income.
The widespread loss of employment and income has had a dramatic impact on household finances. As a result of job losses, nearly 40 percent of Latin American immigrant families reported being unable to cover their basic monthly expenses. In addition, many migrant households lack significant savings. More than 40 percent of families reported having absolutely no savings and only five percent of households had sufficient funds to subsist for more than three months. For many families, lost earnings and limited savings translate into increasing reliance on credit cards and greater debt.
An inadequate policy response at federal, state, and local levels has also increased the vulnerability of New York’s Latin American immigrants. These nearly two million New Yorkers, representing 10 percent of the state’s population, tend to be significantly more vulnerable to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic than the population at large. Despite this disproportionate burden, Latin American immigrant families do not require special treatment. As our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow New Yorkers, they merely need to count and to be counted regardless of country of origin, ethnicity, and immigration status.
Read more about the work here.