Neighborhood Center Delivered the Air-Conditioning that NYC Had Promised

(p. A7) It seemed like a noble idea to offer quick help during the pandemic: New York City would give away free air-conditioners this summer to low-income older people who are stuck indoors.

It turned out to be a far more complicated mission for the city.

. . .

The difficulty in getting a free air-conditioner left many seniors frustrated and confused by what they described as a bureaucratic, inefficient process.

Concepcion Reyes, who is 67 and has asthma, said she made numerous phone calls to a handful of city agencies from her stuffy apartment last week, after seeing her neighbor snag a free air-conditioner from the city.

“I’ve been in the shower two times already today,” Ms. Reyes, who lives at Holmes Towers, a public housing building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, said last week. “I’m sweating bullets.”

. . .

Frustrated by delays, officials at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center in Manhattan spent nearly $30,000 on 56 air-conditioners for older people.

Rosalina Acevedo, who is 73 and diabetic, had one of the units installed in her bedroom at Holmes Towers in July [2020]. When she turned it on for the first time, she instantly felt relief.

“It was delicious,” she said.

Gregory J. Morris, the center’s executive director, said the city should have worked with community groups that could easily have provided a list of older residents with serious health conditions who urgently needed the units. The city had its own lists, and names were missing.

“They were desperate,” he said of the older people his center works with. “There was no timeline from the city. If you’re in the middle of a heat wave, do I wait longer for the city? Or do I step in and solve the problem?”

For the full story, see:

Emma G. Fitzsimmons. “The Wait for Promised Air-Conditioners Leaves Some Older Residents Sweating.” The New York Times (Saturday, August 22, 2020): A7.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 21, 2020, and has the title “Older New Yorkers Sweat It Out, Waiting for Promised Air-Conditioners.”)

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