Portland and Multnomah Co. distributing AC units with extreme heat expected

Published: May. 11, 2023 at 5:18 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Summer is just around the corner and if it’s anything like past summers, we’ll be seeing at least a few days of extreme heat. To prepare, local governments are taking a number of steps, including distributing air conditioning units. Summer heat has become a big concern, ever since a heat wave in June a couple of years ago killed some 70 people in Multnomah County alone.

Leo Gibson remembers the summer of 2021. He didn’t have air conditioning and with only one lung, he was struggling to breathe.

“If you want one, you have to buy one and they’re so expensive,” says Gibson. “I’m on social security, old age social security, so I couldn’t afford one.”

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The City of Portland came to Leo’s rescue, providing him with an air conditioning unit last year. The plan is to distribute thousands more units this summer. The state, Multnomah County and the City of Portland each have their own programs. The state plans to distribute 3000 units this summer and Multnomah County plans to distribute 3000 units as well. The City of Portland has already installed 280 units and plans to have 4000 units installed by year’s end.

For the most part, these units are only available to those with health conditions that make them vulnerable to the heat. The state and Multnomah County want to make it clear you can’t apply with them for the units. They will be distributed primarily through local community service organizations. Oregon Health Plan members can request a unit through their doctor. Those requests can take weeks to fulfill so it’s recommended that you put your request in early before the extreme heat arrives.