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

Kate Stein
A truck full of air conditioners awaiting installation at the Gwen Cherry Housing Community in Allapattah.

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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