Richmonders living in ‘unbearable’ heat for a week after air conditioning breaks

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — More than 20 apartments housing vulnerable, often elderly, residents lost air conditioning early last week — and a week and a half later many still didn’t have any cool air back in their homes.

Lisa Brown, a resident at The New Clay House on Marshall street, reached out to 8News asking for help after she couldn’t get answers from apartment management. At 11 a.m. on Wednesday her apartment was already at 89 degrees. She said that was the 10th day living in the “unbearable” air.

The New Clay House is run by Virginia Supportive Housing, a non-profit that aims to end homelessness.
However, residents like Brown said they’re miserable and wish they had somewhere else they could stay to beat the heat.

Brown has rheumatoid arthritis, among other health issues, and said the constant heat was impacting her health.

“There’s just no relief, it’s 24/7,” she said.

Brown added in recent days, her apartment has reached 95 degrees inside.

The air was triggering her painful rheumatoid arthritis.

“I actually talked to the doctor one time about it and have been told if the problems get any worse, I need to go into the emergency room,” Brown said.

At 11 a.m. on Wednesday Lisa Brown’s apartment was already at 89 degrees. (Photo: Will McCue)

The resident told 8News when she asked management about the air conditioning getting fixed in her apartment and more than two dozen others, staff told her they’re just not sure when it will happen.

“There [are] people who are seriously ill in here and there’s many of them,” Brown said. “Their lives are in danger and that is my opinion.”

Chris Edwards, with Virginia Supportive Housing, spoke with 8News on Wednesday. He said a piece of equipment helping run the air conditioning broke early last week.

“The initial hope was that we would be able to solve the larger issue quickly,” he said.

Edwards said they didn’t think the air conditioning would be out this long.

“This is a vulnerable population and we know that they need a lot of care,” he said.

Some apartments recieved portable air conditioning units while others didn’t, because Edwards said staff couldn’t find enough to buy.

“We got box fans for the remaining 15 units,” he said.

Brown is one of the 15 to only receive a box fan as temperatures rose outside and inside.

On the same day 8News was digging, Edwards said the rest of the hot apartments would get portable air conditioning units that day.

“We’re having maintenance install those 15 individual units right now,” he said.

Edwards said the piece of equipment needed to fix the air conditioning as a whole wasn’t available on the east coast. Now, they’re expediting it from California.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Brown said she had finally received a portable air conditioning unit.

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