Climate resiliency program installs air conditioners in Portland dwellings

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — A summer heat wave two years ago was unlike anything many Oregon residents had ever seen. Temperatures reached 116 degrees, with nearly 100 people dying over three days of record-breaking heat.

Now different programs are giving away air conditioners to vulnerable communities.

One is a climate resiliency program called “Cooling Portland.” On Wednesday, workers installed a couple of air conditioners, with plans to install 7,000 units across the city by the end of the year.

Cooling Portland hopes to install 15,000 AC units city-wide by the end of 2026.

One of the people who received an air conditioner Wednesday was Mama Saue, who has lived in her apartment for almost four years without a unit.

“When it’s so hot I go to my son’s,” Saue said. “I stay there all day, every time it’s so hot.”

Her son lives 10 blocks away. Saue said he checks the weather every day during the summer to determine if he should pick up his mom and have her stay at his house for the day.

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Cristofer Andrade, another 72Foster apartment resident, said he was concerned about leaving his pets alone while he went to work on hot days.

But with a new air conditioner, he feels relieved.

“Pretty priceless honestly,” Andrade said.

Cooling Portland has plans to install 1,800 more AC units by the end of the year.

Portland Clean Energy Fund Policy Manager Jaimes Valdez said the group focuses on providing units to people who are elderly, have medical conditions or live alone.

Valdez said those people who were heat vulnerable were most at risk during the heat wave two years ago.

He said there are also programs to install air conditioning units throughout Portland through Multnomah County programs, and through the Oregon Health Authority.

The Oregon Department of Human Services also received a shipment of air conditioners a couple of weeks ago. Officials said they plan to give away the air conditioners if there is extreme weather.

Eligibility requirements can be found on Cooling Portland’s website.

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