Deborah Helaine Morris

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Climate, Columbia Climate School


Deborah Helaine Morris is an urban planner and urban designer. Her work centers at the nexus of climate adaptation and social equity: more specifically, on how cities manage housing opportunity in geographies facing substantial physical risk. She advises community anchor institutions  in how to incorporate climate risk and resiliency initiatives into healthy community development and revitalization plans. Deborah has extensive experience in public administration, disaster recovery initiatives spanning from 9/11 through COVID-19, and the facilitation of climate change adaptation in affordable housing. Deborah is the currently the Senior Director of Real Estate and Land Use Planning for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. In prior public service, as the Executive Director of Resiliency Policy, Planning, and Acquisitions at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Deborah created a new team, focused on the development of programs to lead aggressive climate change adaption in affordable housing including the recovery of housing damaged by Hurricane Sandy; climate-risk focused community planning initiatives; and the management of a property buyout program.


“Basements are for storage not people” in 20 Experts Discuss Our Future with Flash Floods and What We Can Do About It, Rebuild by Design, 2021.

“The Climate Crisis is a Housing Crisis,” in Global Views on Climate Relocation and Social Justice: Navigating Retreat, AR Siders and I.J Ajibade. New York: Routledge 2021.

Opinion: New York’s Climate Crisis is a Housing Crisis, City Limits, 2022.

“The Crisis is Already Here It Just Wasn’t Evenly Distributed,” in Quarantined: The Role of Design Research in Measuring Urgency. Cambridge: Harvard Design Research Forum, 2020. (excerpt online)

The Ricotta Index, Urban Omnibus, 2013