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Public housing crisis: Residents living without air conditioning

Residents said they fear heat-related illness
Posted at 7:35 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 06:52:49-04

CINCINNATI — A WCPO crew was in the lobby of The President apartments in Avondale Monday when the fire department pulled up outside. Neighbors said this was the third person who had needed emergency medical attention that day.

A resident, Robert Kidd, said the air conditioning in The President went out five days ago.

The President belongs to the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, or CMHA. Residents said every summer, during the hottest part of the year, the air conditioning stops working.

And the AC is only one of a host of structural issues, Kidd said.

Kidd is retired and says he has lived in The President for 12 years. He said he has COPD and the heat makes it dangerous for him to be inside his own apartment.

“I think everybody in here has bought fans, but all the fans are doing is blowing hot air around,” Kidd said. "It seems like everybody sits out front because they can’t function inside... [The CMHA] won’t listen to us. They won’t answer the phone when we call over there.”

The residents also showed WCPO parts of the ceiling that had collapsed from water damage, apartments that had sewage backed up into them, and air filters clogged with dust.

RELATED: Cincinnati's public housing at a crossroads: Avondale residents demand action

Ward said the AC went out Friday, but Lesley Wardlow, senior communications coordinator for CMHA, said CMHA only found out on Saturday. She said CMHA is working on the repair, but she didn’t know when it would be fixed.

Wardlow also said CMHA would provide every resident with a free fan while the authority installs new window AC units and new AC units in the basement.

Most of the people living in The President are retirees. The heat, dust, and mold aggravate health issues for many of them. they said. Kidd said he is only supposed to use his inhaler twice a day, but that the heat aggravated his breathing to the point where that often was not enough.

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Kidd’s son called him while he was being interviewed to try to convince his father to move in with him. Kidd, however, said he was making a point.

“I will be here until everyone in here has air, a clean building and [is] heard,” Kidd said.

The fire department came because a woman had an asthma attack, but she was the first person that day who did not need to be hospitalized. The rest of the residents said they were “dropping like flies.”

The CMHA hopes the new AC units will fix the problem and let the residents of The President breathe more easily.