Environmental data shows that 70% of Superfund toxic waste sites are located within one mile of federally assisted housing. And a collection of other reports in recent years reveal a connection between toxic waste sites and federally supported housing.
Toxic waste sites are found all around the country. These sites have pollutants and levels of contamination that are harmful to people.
The worst of these sites are identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Superfund site. This label gives these places priority for clean-up funds.
For decades, new public housing developments were often built in poor neighborhoods near former industrial areas. Federal policy reinforced local zoning restrictions, land was cheaper, and projects were less likely to face Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) opposition. Many of these industries were heavy polluters.
Historic patterns of segregation have clustered low-income renters into segregated neighborhoods and communities, making them bear the brunt of exposure to these deadly sites. This is especially true for renters of color.
The Superfund issue is not the only recent report that has drawn connections between toxic waste sites and federally supported housing. Data has also shown that:
- Negative health effects are most likely to occur within about two miles of the toxic site.
- Approximately 21 million Americans live within one mile of a SuperFund site, with 1 in 6 living within three miles of a toxic waste site.
- Approximately 5 million households (over 10 million people) receive federal housing assistance.
- HUD assists 18,158 properties located within one mile of a SuperFund site.
- Nearly one-third of federally supported properties were built before federal environmental review was required.
- Renters of color most likely to face hazardous conditions
- Black Americans are 75% more likely to live in a polluted or contaminated community than the average American.
- Renters of color are burdened by housing costs more than white renters, facing even more widespread rent hardship during the pandemic.
- The majority of residents in HUD-assisted housing are people of color.
- Low-income renters, especially during the pandemic, are very likely to put off health care because of cost.
- This makes it harder to treat health problems linked to toxic waste exposure.