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Miami, Miami-Dade Partner To Install Air Conditioners In Public Housing

A truck full of air conditioners awaiting installation at the Gwen Cherry Housing Community in Allapattah.
Kate Stein
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida is hot and may be trending hotter: 2015, 2017 and the early part of 2018all set temperature records.

But federal law does not require air conditioning in public housing, so many people who live on low incomes have to go without. That can mean sticky days and sleepless nights -- studies show warmer weather makes it difficult to sleep -- but heat can also be a serious health risk for young children, elderly people and those with heart problems and respiratory conditions.

That's why the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County are working together to put A/C in some homes and apartments.

In August, the municipalities installed 51 air conditioning units in the Liberty Square housing complex in Liberty City. At a press conference on Thursday, workers began installing 35 units in the Gwen Cherry complex in Allapattah.

"This isn't rocket science," said Emilio Gonzalez, Miami's city manager. "It's not expensive and it's the right thing to do."

Gonzalez told reporters his office is paying for the units and they cost about $200 apiece. Depite the relatively low cost, Gonzalez said the city can't currently provide air conditioners to everyone who needs them. He said the focus is on people who are particularly vulnerable: the elderly, the disabled, people with special needs and families with young children.

"We worked with the housing department in the county and they came up with the individuals who had the greatest need," he said.

He said the city and the county hope to install more units at other public housing sites in the months ahead.

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Kate Stein can't quite explain what attracts her to South Florida. It's more than just the warm weather (although this Wisconsin native and Northwestern University graduate definitely appreciates the South Florida sunshine). It has a lot to do with being able to travel from the Everglades to Little Havana to Brickell without turning off 8th Street. It's also related to Stein's fantastic coworkers, whom she first got to know during a winter 2016 internship.Officially, Stein is WLRN's environment, data and transportation journalist. Privately, she uses her job as an excuse to rove around South Florida searching for stories à la Carl Hiaasen and Edna Buchanan. Regardless, Stein speaks Spanish and is always thrilled to run, explore and read.