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Extreme heat is an important weather hazard associated with excess mortality and morbidity. We determine the relative importance of heat exposure and the built environment, socioeconomic vulnerability, and neighborhood stability for heat mortality (Philadelphia, PA, USA) or heat distress (Phoenix, AZ, USA), using an ecologic study design. We use spatial Generalized Linear and Mixed Models to account for non-independence (spatial autocorrelation) between neighboring census block groups. Failing to account for spatial autocorrelation can provide misleading statistical results. Phoenix neighborhoods with more heat exposure, Black, Hispanic, linguistically and socially isolated residents, and vacant households made more heat distress calls. Philadelphia heat mortality neighborhoods were more likely to have low housing values and a higher proportion of Black residents. Our methodology can identify important risk factors and geographic areas to target interventions.