Washington state officials are looking to give residents more access to air conditioning through an existing federal program.
The Seattle Times says tens of thousands of low-income households are eligible can get an AC unit through the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Residents can also use these funds to repair or replace defective units and pay for energy bills, according to a recent news release from the state Department of Commerce.
Washington gets $60 million annually for this program, but it was previously reserved for heating-related utility, not cooling. Following a deadly heat wave in late June, reporters learned the hardest-hit populations were people living in low-income households, substandard housing, or on the streets.
No funds have been spent on cooling, according to a state spokesperson.
“There wasn’t a prohibition on cooling, it just wasn’t included in Washington state’s program,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to reporters. “Until recently, our climate had dictated that the primary need for use of the program funds was heating assistance.”
The expansion won't begin until October 1. A household is eligible if they make up 150% of the federal poverty level, which is $39,750 for a family of four, reporters explained.
For more information about the LIHEAP program and how to apply, click here or call 360-725-2857.