Richmond residents live in ‘unbearable’ heat for a week after air conditioning failure

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 had no fresh air in their houses.

Lisa Brown, a resident of The New Clay House on Marshall Street, contacted 8News for help after she was unable to get responses from the apartment’s management. At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, her apartment was already at 89 degrees. She said it was the 10th day to live in “unbearable” air.

The New Clay House is managed by Virginia Supportive Housing, a non-profit organization that aims to end homelessness.
However, residents like Brown have said they are unhappy and wish they had somewhere else to stay to beat the heat.

Brown suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, among other health issues, and has said the constant heat is taking a toll on his health.

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

Brown has added in recent days that his apartment has reached 95 degrees indoors.

The air triggered her painful rheumatoid arthritis.

“I actually told the doctor about it once and was told if the problems got worse I had to go to 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 repair in her apartment and more than two dozen others, staff told her they just don’t know when it will happen.

“The [are] people who are seriously ill here and there are a lot of them, ”Brown said. “Their lives are in danger and that is my opinion.”

Chris Edwards, of Virginia Supportive Housing, spoke to 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 resolve the larger problem quickly,” he said.

Edwards said they didn’t think the air conditioning would be off for that long.

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

Some apartments received portable air conditioning units while others did not, as Edwards said staff couldn’t find enough to buy.

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

Brown is one of 15 who only received a box fan because 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 asking maintenance to install these 15 individual units right now,” he said.

Edwards said the equipment needed to repair the air conditioning as a whole was not available on the East Coast. Now they’re shipping this from California.

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

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