PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Amid efforts in Portland, and across Oregon, to install air conditioning units in homes in need, more than 1,000 units have not been sent to non-profits to install in homes.
The tax-payer-funded units were purchased to help avoid heat-related deaths after nearly 70 people died in Multnomah County during the 2021 heat wave.
KOIN 6 News talked to Tracy Fravel who was on an installation list with her church, one of the non-profits installing the units, in northeast Portland.
The portable window unit took about 30 minutes to install and Fravel said it will make a difference.
“I’m diabetic also, and I’m overweight, and 67, so yes, I think it’ll help tremendously,” Fravel said.
However, the handful of non-profits has very limited staff to be able to get many installed each day.
A KOIN 6 News crew also went to the offices of Earth Advantage, the non-profit hired by the City of Portland to manage the AC distribution program.
The director told KOIN 6 News their role is to buy the units and distribute them, but installation is up to non-profits. However, the non-profits don’t have enough people to scale up the installations.
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Gov. Kate Brown’s Office said the units are being distributed to community organizations within a “quick turnaround time” from the time the Oregon Health Authority receives them.
The governor’s office added “the Oregon Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is working with key partners, including OHA, Oregon DHS, and the Oregon State Police to implement the state emergency operations plan and heat-specific support as identified in the 2021 heat event after-action report. During this state of emergency, OEM is focused on maintaining situational awareness and responding to resource requests from local jurisdictions, who are well aware of the process for requesting assistance from the state. In terms of the local distribution of AC units, OEM has not received any requests for assistance. OEM stands ready to assist should they receive a request.”
The mayor says his office has offered support to Commissioner Rubio’s office, which is in charge of the program.
The latest numbers from Earth Advantage show 868 units have been installed, 70 plus more than Monday. Still, 1,130 units are in warehouses.