2,500 families living in public housing could soon have air conditioning in their units

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Approximately 2,500 families living in public housing have been enduring San Antonio summer heat without access to air conditioning, according to the San Antonio Housing Authority. The oldest housing complex has not had A/C installed since it was built in the 1930s, but that could soon finally change.

At a community meeting in July 2018, state Rep. Diego Bernal, District 23, found out that several units did not have air conditioning and many couldn’t afford their own window units.

“From the moment I first heard of the issue, I made it my mission to learn, investigate and end these harsh living conditions. After intense fact-finding, a series of site visits, and preliminary planning with Mayor Ron Nirenberg, members of the City Council, and City Staff, in September 2018, I promised on social media that we would fix this problem,” Bernal said in a news release. “Through a collaborative effort with Mayor Ron Nirenberg, the City Council, City Staff and the San Antonio Housing Authority, and philanthropist Gordon Hartman, we are putting people first and working to secure funding to provide over 2,000 public housing units with air conditioning.”

Pearl Murray lives in the Alazan Apache Apartments, which is one of the 23 apartment complexes SAHA owns that doesn’t have air conditioning in units.

“When it's hot, it's hot,” Murray said. “It was like 90 degrees in there. There was a point where we were sleeping in our underwear, basically, because it was that hot.”

There is no central A/C at the Alazan Apache Apartments, so, according to Murray, the residents must provide and install their own window units.

“We had to put out money to get at least three window A/C units into our home,” Murray said.

She said it cost them $116 a unit.

Murray, along with 2,500 families that live in SAHA units without air conditioning, are hoping to have a cooler summer.

Recently, the Comprehensive City Planning Committee approved a funding recommendation that could fix the issue, but it still needs to be taken up for a vote by City Council.

SAHA says funding for the $1.5 million project would be come from SAHA, the city and the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation.

Murray said air conditioning is something the older complexes need badly and hopes the funding comes so she can keep her children, who are 1 and 5 years old, cool during the summer.

“It was to the point where I had to have my kids spend the night at their grandparents' house,” Murray said.

Other SAHA facilities that could benefit are Cassianno Homes, Villa Tranchese and Fair Avenue Apartments.

The City Council will vote on the funding in March. If approved, SAHA said it will start the purchasing process of either wall units or central air as soon as possible to get the air conditioning installed before the summer.

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