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Get Cool NYC: Mayor de Blasio Updates New Yorkers on COVID-19 Summer Heat Plan

June 12, 2020

City has already installed 4,500 ACs for low-income seniors, an eight-fold increase from last year under the Home Energy Assistance ProgramPublic Service Commission approves City’s petition for $70 million in cooling subsidies for low-income New Yorkers 

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today updated New Yorkers on the City’s efforts to keep vulnerable New Yorkers cool indoors this summer. The Get Cool NYC program addresses the higher risk for indoor heat exposure for New Yorkers this summer, due to staying inside for social distancing, especially for those most at risk of COVID-19 complications.

“Summer is upon us, and we must keep the most vulnerable New Yorkers cool and safe at home,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We're moving heaven and earth to get air conditioners to thousands of seniors in need, and I thank the Public Service Commission for approving our request to provide even more financial assistance to New Yorkers so they don't have to choose between keeping cool and putting food on the table.”

The City has reached out to over 180,000 low-income seniors, of which over 25,000 have requested air conditioning units. The City has installed 4,500 air conditioners so far, including over 1,900 in NYCHA buildings, and is ramping up to install as many as 74,000 air conditioners for low-income seniors this summer. The City has installed eight times more air conditioners in the apartments of low-income, vulnerable seniors in just the first few weeks of this program compared to the number of installations for all of last year under the Home Energy Assistance Program. This is a monumental undertaking to keep New Yorkers safe from the heat this summer and will offer protection for years to come.

The New York State Public Service Commission has also approved the City’s request to keep vulnerable low income New Yorkers safe in their homes by providing financial assistance with their summer utility bills. The $70 million in aid will provide much needed relief for approximately 440,000 families in New York City, providing up to $140 from June to October. Vulnerable New Yorkers are already dealing with the effects of this pandemic, and the additional funding is a lifeline to those who need it the most during these difficult times.

“As the summer starts to heat up, our most vulnerable New Yorkers should not have to choose between staying cool and paying the bills,” said Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. “This decision from the Public Service Commission will impact hundreds of thousands of families throughout New York City for the better, when so many continue to grapple with this virus. As a City, we will continue to double down on our efforts to ensure that all New Yorkers have a safe and cool place to be when the summer heat hits.”

“Our primary goal is to ensure that our most vulnerable New Yorkers are prepared to beat the heat this summer, and this initiative is the catalyst for that preparation,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell. “The Public Service Commission’s important approval is a lifeline that will provide much needed financial reprieve to those who need it the most during these difficult times.”

“Extreme heat is potentially deadly and with COVID-19 keeping more New Yorkers indoors, the risks only increase,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said. “The City’s efforts to keep New Yorkers cool are potentially life-saving. We can also look out for each other by checking in on friends, family members and neighbors who are sick, elderly, or disabled and may need assistance in a heat emergency.”

“This is what climate justice looks like — New Yorkers and the Public Service Commission taking a stance to help protect frontline and at-risk communities from climate impacts like extreme heat as we transition out of the pandemic,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.  “We must create a New York City where people do not have to choose between paying their bills and making choices that keep them healthy and safe.”

"Having an air conditioner doesn’t matter if you can’t afford to run it. The Public Service Commission’s decision is critical because it will unlock financial relief for hundreds of thousands New Yorkers to help them afford their utility bills this summer," said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor's Office of Resiliency. "Combined with our Get Cool NYC program, this decision will advance climate justice at a critical time, when the pandemic and global warming present a dual threat to the most vulnerable among us."

"As New Yorkers continue to socially distance and remain indoors, it's important that seniors have a home that is cool and safe this summer," said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. "High heat can be deadly, and the expansion of this program will help protect the most vulnerable."

“This summer will be especially challenging for the most vulnerable New Yorkers who are dealing with both the pandemic and the intense heat. With this all-hands-on-deck effort to ensure people can pay their cooling bills and to provide air conditioning units to those in need, the City is keeping our communities safe at a very delicate time,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “I applaud Mayor de Blasio, his team and our partner agencies for pulling together this incredible program.”

“For older New Yorkers, intense summer heat is dangerous. This program is essential to helping New York City’s most vulnerable stay safe in their homes and cool this summer season and many seasons to come,” said NYC Department for the Aging Commissioner Cortés-Vázquez. “As we face increasing summer temperatures, this initiative is a long-term solution that helps many individuals beat the heat.”

“As our City enters summer, continues to combat COVID-19, and gradually reopens with a focus on rebuilding better and fairer than before, DSS is proud to help provide low-income New Yorkers with access to cooling resources,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “ This program ensures that New Yorkers don’t have to worry about expenses for vital summer time tools to beat the heat, like AC.”

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