Free Air Conditioners from New York State

July 18, 2012 1:27:45 PM PDT
Lucila Cruz is cooling off with her new air conditioner.

"I had a fan, and I was so uncomfortable sleeping, but now it's better," she said.

It's better because of that air conditioner she got for free; part of a government program to help New Yorkers who are most at risk in the extreme heat.

"This program is designed for low income folks who have medical conditions in conjunction with their doctor's orders," said Daryl C. Towns, the New York State Housing Commissioner. "We are making air conditions available."

They're distributed through sixty three agencies like this in New York State. Here at the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, Dan Reiber says phones have been ringing off the hook.

"We have mailed out five hundred plus applications in the past three weeks," said Reiber, NMIC Weatherization Director.

At some locations you can apply in person, but Dan says it's best to call and apply by mail. To qualify for a free air conditioner, there are income requirements.

If you're single, for example, you must earn less than about $25,750 a year. For a family of four, the household must earn less than $49,500 a year. And your application must include a note from your doctor.

Make sure that doctor's note not only lists your medical conditions but also says therefore you require or could benefit from an air conditioner, otherwise your application could be incomplete.

The air conditioners will be given out first-come-first-serve until the money runs out. New York State was just given $3,000,000 of federal tax funding to pay for the program. Dan says they got about $130,000 dollars from that money-- only enough for about two hundred air conditioners. Installation is also free but you pay the electric bill.

"We've got as many as five people manning the phones all day really," said Reiber, "taking people's information."

As with any free government program, the application process is a bit of a process, but it's worth it to try if it might save your life.


For assistance with your summer electric bill:

NY State Weatherization Program:

The Weatherization Assistance Program assists income-eligible families and individuals by reducing their heating/cooling costs and improving the safety of their homes through energy efficiency measures.

Heartshare: The Neighbor Fund

Neighbor Fund

The Neighbor Fund was created by Entergy to help low income families in the Bronx and Westchester pay their energy bills in the heat of the summer, running from July through September. Through this program, individuals can receive up to $50, depending on the amount of their bill. For an application, call (866) 504-COOL during the cooling season for a list of offices. Applicants may only apply to this fund once every two years.

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