Statement also opposes any proposed facilities on Allens Avenue likely to worsen pollution and asthma rates
“Air and traffic pollution in and around Allens Avenue and the Port of Providence is ‘out of control.'” said Linda Perri, President, Washington Park Neighborhood Association. “Increased truck traffic has grown exponentially to create a very serious health and structural safety issue that needs to be addressed immediately. This issue, as well as other pending projects here overwhelm the Washington Park residents and the city as a whole. The city should be instituting a moratorium on any further toxic enterprises coming to this Allens Avenue and Port location and concentrate on ‘cleaner and greener’ businesses here before we reach the point of no return. Providence is getting the reputation of being pollution friendly as opposed to tech business-friendly. We need to promote clean business and discourage this ‘old way’ of creating revenue. In the long run it’s just not worth it!”
Many neighborhoods in our city, particularly those in low-income areas, are experiencing some of the highest asthma rates in New England. Most affected: OUR CHILDREN.
On Earth Day 2016, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza signed an Executive Order that set a goal for Providence to become a carbon-neutral city by 2050. This fall, the city released the Climate Justice Plan for a more equitable, low-carbon, and climate-resilient future.
The Providence Coalition of Neighborhood Associations (PCNA) (representing 19 densely populated neighborhoods from across the city) would like to wholeheartedly thank and applaud the Mayor, the City of Providence, as well as the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee (REJC) for their leadership and commitment to protecting frontline communities that are closest to and most impacted by environmental pollutants.
Our city faces a public health and environmental justice crisis caused by high levels of air pollution. Research has shown that outdoor air pollutants and toxic dust are well-known and undisputed asthma triggers, and children are particularly susceptible. As the Climate Justice Plan indicates, asthma is the most common chronic illness in children in Rhode Island, affecting 25,000 individuals, or almost 11 percent of children in the state. This is the 9th highest prevalence in the nation. The problem is concentrated in Providence, and particularly in low-income neighborhoods of our city, which are experiencing some of the highest childhood asthma rates in the state and New England.
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Children in low-income families, as well as communities of color, are particularly likely to have severe asthma. According to the Climate Justice Plan, “individuals who reside in South Providence, Washington Park, Wanskuck, and the West End – all predominantly low-income communities of color – represent the majority of asthma-related emergency room visits.” 71 percent of all asthma-related emergency room visits in Rhode Island are for children in Medicaid. Additionally, Black and Hispanic children are disproportionately affected by asthma and are more likely to visit the emergency room or be hospitalized due to asthma. The uneven burden in asthma emergency department visits and inpatient hospital admissions among these groups has been increasing despite medical advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma.
We must take urgent action to improve air quality in our city and to address the inequitable planning and zoning practices that concentrate pollution where people/families of low-income and communities of color reside. Industrial development in low-income communities of color is a major cause of the high rates of childhood asthma in our city. Allens Avenue is already a hot spot for air pollution that affects the South Providence and Washington Park neighborhoods, and new polluting businesses repeatedly seek to open facilities in this industrial area. These proposals would make a bad problem even worse, and the City of Providence should not issue permits to new facilities in this area that would increase the air pollution burden. The city should also urgently seek solutions to reduce air pollution throughout the city, most of which exceeds the state’s 75th percentile in terms of air pollution metrics such as diesel particulate pollution and respiratory hazards.
Together, the undersigned members of the Providence Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, along with the Green Energy Consumers Alliance, Climate Action RI, Clean Ocean Access, Audubon Society of RI, Equity Institute, Southside Community Land Trust, and other stakeholders, are taking a stand to recognize our moral responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of our community – our children, grandchildren, and neighbors. We, therefore, call on the City to implement the Climate Justice Plan, and on the City and state, to take concrete action to reduce the burden of asthma and to improve the quality of life and health outcomes for all Rhode Islanders, especially those in low-income urban neighborhoods most affected by toxic air pollution. Further, we urge elected officials to look at other successful models and pass city and/or state legislation and ordinances to address the cumulative impacts of polluting industry around the port and move proactively towards the goals and strategies laid out in the Climate Justice Plan.
On behalf of the residents in the PCNA neighborhoods, we thank you for taking the opportunity to listen and engage in the City’s Climate Justice Plan. We urge you to oppose any more proposed facilities on Allens Ave that would likely present health risks and worsen pollution and asthma rates in our neighborhoods.
- WASHINGTON PARK NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
- SOUTH ELMWOOD NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
- ELMWOOD/SOUTH PROVIDENCE CRIMEWATCH
- ELMWOOD NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
- GREEN ENERGY CONSUMERS ALLIANCE
- CLIMATE ACTION RI
- AUDUBON SOCIETY OF RHODE ISLAND
- CLEAN OCEAN ACCESS
- EQUITY INSTITUTE
- SOUTHSIDE COMMUNITY LAND TRUST
- COLLEGE HILL NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
- ELMHURST CLEAN AND GREEN
- FRIENDS OF INDIA POINT PARK
- FOX POINT NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
- JEWELRY DISTRICT ASSOCIATION
- OBSERVATORY NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
- OLNEYVILLE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATIO
- RESERVOIR TRIANGLE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
- SUMMIT NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
- WAYLAND SQUARE NEIGHBORHOOD
- WEST BROADWAY NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
- City Councilor Helen Anthony (Ward 2)
- City Councilor Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3)
- City Councilor Carmen Castillo (Ward 9)
- City Councilor Pedro Espinal (Ward 10)
- City Councilor Kat Kerwin (Ward 12)
- State Representative Edith H Ajello (District 1)
- State Senator Ana B Quezada (District 2)
- State Senator Samuel Bell (District 5)
- State Representative Joseph Almedia (District 12)
[From a press release]