Climate change can become a daily battle for people living in old or poorly designed housing and people in social and affordable housing may be impacted to the point where it has serious effects on health.
Churches Housing is proud to be an active partner in a new research project, Cooling the Commons, with Western Sydney University and housing providers. We are applying for an ARC research grant and helping build partnerships and collaboration across Western Sydney.
In 2015, a pilot study of how people in Western Sydney were coping with heat interviewed elderly residents, mothers with small children and people who cared for family members with disability.
The quality of housing and neighbourhood environments affected their everyday lives and ability to keep cool. Many elderly people had knowledge, strengths and strategies to adapt their environments to better cope with the heat, while the young were less well-equipped with practical cooling strategies and relied on air-con and minimising movement.
All identified public spaces where coolth (a 19th century term that is opposite to ‘warmth’) could be found and all aspired for a cool city of which they could be a part. What they lacked was the capacity to activate and share this knowledge.
From the pilot study we learnt that shared knowledge of cooling strategies, physical design for cool houses, and shady, watery accessible spaces all could make up the cool commons.