Theses Master's

Beyond the Flood Maps: Post Hurricane Ida Flood Risk, Housing Informality and Community Based Recovery to Adaptation Narratives

Karagoz, Gizem

Effects of climate change on different socio-demographic identities, such as immigrant communities, within low-income and informal housing settlements lack sufficient research and analysis. Literature written on the compounded impacts of social vulnerability factors reveal residents living in informal housing conditions are at best ignored by planning policies, as in the case of New York City basement dwellings, and at worst are evicted by housing authorities (Dodman, 2019). These two extreme responses make planning climate recovery and adaptation at the household level difficult without acknowledging and learning from the conditions of informality.

How can New York City plan for future inland flood events and accurately understand the risk posed on vulnerable communities living in basement apartments if it cannot rely on formal disaster recovery and climate adaptation policies and procedures? This thesis argues that centering critical theory and the subaltern can contribute to adapting climate research to conditions of urban informality. This complex challenge at the intersection of informal housing and climate change presents an opportunity to produce theory, knowledge, and policy in conjunction with communities who have experience working with states of informality.

In the case of New York City, Community Based Organizations who have developed a history of trust with immigrant communities and their states of housing informality undertake a critical role. Centering the knowledge and experience of CBOs in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida through narrative research reveals the challenges and opportunities to better understand the compounded vulnerability experienced by immigrants who depend on basement apartments in flood zones. It also provides a means to address ‘informality’ in future disaster recovery and climate adaptation planning to encourage stormwater flooding policies that are informed by community needs and build on local assets.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Sarmiento, Hugo
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2022