Water Rescue crew on site searching for survivors after dangerous Flooding Aerial drone views high above Flooding caused by Climate Change leaving entire neighborhood underwater and houses completely under water , boat with water rescue searching for people stuck in their flooded homes

Trend Snapshot

Extreme weather is overwhelming an already-deteriorating infrastructure, ill-equipped to handle the frequency, intensity, and volatility of these new environmental conditions. The existing housing stock may not be built to withstand such conditions. Some communities are bearing the brunt of these volatile conditions more than others, but all local governments and utilities must revisit resiliency plans and shore up weakened buildings, homes, dams, and electrical grids. 

An increasing number of communities are becoming high risk for extreme weather such as floods, droughts, tornadoes, and heatwaves and will need to prepare their homes and neighborhoods to withstand these events. Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, a winter storm, and a cold wave cost the U.S. $145 billion in property damage in 2021, affecting 14.5 million homes, and projections for the next 5 years are expected to increase significantly (180 million homes by 2035).

Shifting environmental conditions may force people to leave their homes and communities for areas that are less impacted.  Those living in areas severely impacted by extreme weather may see their wealth decrease due to declining property values.  As extreme weather events increase, it’s expected that many will struggle to rebuild and may be permanently displaced.


  • Current weather events provide an entry point for discussing updates to residential building standards.
  • Environmental issues create urgency to adapt new sustainable technologies and materials in housing construction and development.
  • New housing designs can protect people from the effects of extreme weather such as heat waves.
  • Sustainable recovery options, after a natural disaster, can help communities rebuild while showcasing more permanent types of shelter, including modular housing and ADUs.
A group of moms with their children volunteer in a local food bank. They are receiving donated food items from the community.


  • The cost of utilities is increasing — including air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter — in line with the increasing number of extreme-temperature days.
  • Competing financial demands on homeowners can limit their investment in energy-efficient design choices and disaster-resilient construction.
    • While using these materials pays off over time, it is more expensive up-front, and homeowners often prioritize short-term cost over long-term benefit.
  • Renters have little control over the quality and maintenance of their homes.
    • They are limited in what they can do in the face of natural disasters or other environmental threats. If landlords do not see a financial benefit, they often leave renters unprotected.
  • Extreme weather will have impacts that are difficult for individuals to anticipate as historical patterns shift, meaning they will often be under-prepared and under-insured and will likely incur significant unexpected repair costs and possibly displacement.
    • Those without insurance may not be able to rebuild.
  • Rising housing prices in cities and suburbs push Americans deeper into fire-prone areas, leaving homeowners with little idea about the specific risk in their new locale.

What Can Be Done?

Federal, state, and local policymakers should:

Develop disaster-resistant building codes, design regulations, and infrastructure plans that prevent development in high-risk zones.

Equitably distribute economic investments after natural disasters to support current residents remaining in the community.

Establish plans for housing displaced residents in the short-term, and supporting residents in returning to long-term housing. 

Incentivize energy efficient retrofits to existing homes and in new construction.  

Explore Related Resources

AARP Livable Communities Housing Archive

Goals:  Expand Options | Improve Policy | Preserve Affordability