Oregon Senate Approves Bill Easing Access To Heat Relief

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A bill that would help renters access air conditioners and air filters passed the Oregon Senate 23-4 on Wednesday and is headed to the House for consideration.

A record-breaking heat wave last June killed more than 500 people in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and western Canada. Most of those who died were lower-income or older residents who had no access to air conditioning and couldn’t leave their homes.

Senate Bill 1536 limits restrictions that landlords and homeowners associations can place on portable cooling devices and calls for the creation of a state program to distribute air conditioners and filters to needy residents on an emergency basis.

“In the summer of 2021, Oregon experienced a record heat wave, the 2nd worst natural disaster in our state’s recorded history,” Sen. Kayse Jama, a Portland Democrat who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement.

“Most people who passed away were seniors, people with disabilities, or people with underlying medical conditions. Senate Bill 1536 will protect more Oregonians by removing barriers to installing lifesaving devices.”

The measure also sets requirements for new residential rental units to provide adequate cooling facilities, creates a grant program at the Oregon Department of Energy to provide assistance for purchasing and installing heat pumps and includes a $2 million appropriation for the Department of Human Services to provide grants for emergency shelters for clean air, warming or cooling.

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