Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Relief from heat in short supply

Agencies ask for air conditioners to give to needy folks

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When the summer temperature rises, Jeannette Love's Hamilton apartment turns into an oven.

        Miss Love, 54, who has asthma and other medical problems, owns two fans, but they don't help much when it really gets hot. “When the temperature got into the 90s a while back, I had to go to the hospital for two hours until my body got cool,” she said.

(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |
        She asked a Butler County agency called Supports to Encourage Low-income Families (SELF) for an air conditioner. But during a recent two-week period, SELF gave away all 75 of its air conditioners to low-income people who are either elderly or who have documented medical problems. Miss Love is on a waiting list of 21.

        With the dog days of summer approaching, many Greater Cincinnati social service agencies, like SELF, don't have enough air conditioners to give to low-income people who need them.

        The Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency expects to receive 250 air conditioners this week through the same federal summer crisis cooling program that provided 75 to SELF.

        That's enough for the 100 people on a waiting list restricted to the elderly or those with documented respiratory problems.

        But more than 500 other people have called asking for air conditioners, said Herbert Walker, the Community Action Agency's manager of housing and energy. The agency can't come close to satisfying the demand.

        “Last year, we gave out 190 air conditioners, and we had 300 other people out there ready to string us up,” he said. “We hope things don't get worse. But I think it's going to be a hot July and August.”

Local social service agencies are accepting donations of air conditioners or money to buy them:
• Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency — 751-2624
• Supports to Encourage Low-income Families (SELF) in Hamilton — 868-9300
• Brighton Center in Newport — 491-8303
• Clermont County Community Services — 732-7182
• Mercy Franciscan at St. John in Over-the-Rhine — 241-2186
        Edward Davis, who lives in an apartment above a barber shop in East Walnut Hills, dreads the inevitable summer heat wave. He's 72 and has asthma.

        “There's not much insulation in this building, and the heat gets in through the walls as well as the windows,” he said. “When it gets real hot, I start wheezing and get short of breath.”

        He's on the waiting list for an air conditioner with the Community Action Agency.

        The Brighton Center in Newport has 39 people on its waiting list for air conditioners in Campbell County. The agency probably won't be able to give them all an air conditioner unless it receives more donations, said Jennifer Griola, family support coordinator. “We buy air conditioners at discounted rates with donations,” she said. “But our funds will not meet the needs.”

        Clermont County Community Services will be receiving 100 air conditioners through the summer crisis cooling program. They won't last long, said Joyce Boothe, the agency's project specialist. Pauline Crawford hopes the Com munity Action Agency will have an air conditioner for her when its shipment comes in.

        “It's steaming in here sometimes,” said Miss Crawford, 48, of Avondale.

        She has asthma and takes dialysis treatments at home. When she's able, Miss Crawford leaves her house during the extremely hot days and gets relief in the air-conditioned beauty shop where she used to work.

        “It just gets too hot to stay here,” she said.



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