A home on the coast of Shishmaref, Alaska. Diana Haecker/AP

Threatened by climate change, the Inupiat Eskimo village has voted to leave their island for the mainland. But can they afford it?

The residents of a small island village in Alaska, located on one of the state’s most eroded shorelines, have voted to move to the mainland, the Associated Press reports.

But can they afford it?

The Inupiat Eskimo community of Shishmaref, a village on Sarichef Island just north of the Bering Strait, voted Tuesday in a special election to leave their island village and relocate five miles to mainland Alaska. The village, home to 600 members of the indigenous community, has been identified as one of the most affected by coastal erosion, brought on by climate change.

Unofficial ballot results, excluding absentee and special-needs ballots, show 89 people cast their ballot in favor of relocation, 78 opted to stay in favor of adding environmental protections.

But both options come at a cost. The price of moving, according to a 2004 Army Corps of Engineers study, is $180 million. Staying put and adding erosion-control protections would cost the community $110 million.

Tuesday’s vote isn’t the first time the Inupiat people have considered relocation. Efforts to move the community began in the 1970s and the village voted to relocate in 2002. Like the 2016 vote, however, funding was an issue.

Sara Tocktoo, Shishmaref’s native corporation general manager, told KTUU the decision would have a significant impact on the future of the community, which has been present on the island for more than 10,000 years.

“I’m gonna have to think hard about this, you know, because it’s gonna impact my children, it’s gonna impact my grandchildren,” she said. “Whatever decision we decide to make, we have to think about the future.”

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    Cities Deserve Better Than These Thomas Heatherwick Gimmicks

    The “Vessel” at New York’s Hudson Yards—like so many of his designs—look as if the dystopian world of 1984 has been given a precious makeover.

  2. Homes in Amsterdam are pictured.
    Equity

    Amsterdam's Plan: If You Buy a Newly Built House, You Can't Rent It Out

    In an effort to make housing more affordable, the Dutch capital is crafting a law that says anyone who buys a newly built home must live in it themselves.

  3. A photo of U.S. senators and 2020 Democratic Party hopefuls Cory Booker and Kamala Harris
    Equity

    Cory Booker and Kamala Harris Want a Monthly IRS Tax Credit for Rent

    The 2020 Democratic Party hopefuls are both planning bills that would create a tax credit for housing rental assistance every month. How would that work?

  4. Transportation

    China's 50-Lane Traffic Jam Is Every Commuter's Worst Nightmare

    What happens when a checkpoint merges 50 lanes down to 20.

  5. A photo of a police officer guarding the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal.
    Perspective

    The Troubling Limits of the ‘Great Crime Decline’

    The fall of urban violence since the 1990s was a public health breakthrough, as NYU sociologist Patrick Sharkey says in his book Uneasy Peace. But we must go further.