The city has launched a project to plant 100,000 trees over the next decade, and will target inner-city areas that have little shade, he said. "You have a tale of two cities. Some neighborhoods with very, very high tree canopy, and others woefully underserved."
The history of East Boston's Shore Plaza apartments stretches back four decades. Built in the 1970s, the development was financed in part with a public housing loan when interest rates were high, with the intention that the loan would be repaid and the housing converted to market value condos to be sold to middle- and upper-income buyers.
Then the market crashed in the late 1970s, and periodic flooding and harsh winds helped convince the developer the property would not appeal to a richer clientele, according to Estrella-Luna. The apartments have been through several owners since, but always as subsidized housing.
Ayed and Acevedo live in other subsidized apartments nearby, only slightly more protected from sea rise and storms. They are campaigning to get more information about climate change, development plans and environmental risks in their community.
"I worry about it," said Acevedo. "I'm really scared about what will happen."
The United Church of Christ -- a pioneer in the environmental justice movement in the early 1980s when it reported on the prevalence of toxic waste dumps in poor, black neighborhoods -- has turned much of its attention to climate change. The church is calling for people to change their personal habits related to fossil fuels and demand action from their public officials.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also has embraced the "climate justice" issue.
Jacqui Patterson, director of the Environment and Climate Change Justice Program at the NAACP headquarters in Baltimore, said impacts of climate change are entwined with class, race, lack of political clout and economic disruption when polluting industries close.
The organization is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and is trying to help promote more volunteer programs to deal with climate justice.
"I think there is a slowly growing awareness, and some moderate attempts to deal with it," Patterson said. "But moderate might be the right word."
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.