The extreme heat events of June 2021 were consistent with the worst-case climate modeling for the Pacific Northwest. Over the course of several days, almost 100 Oregonians lost their lives to extreme temperatures, with more than 70 deaths in Multnomah County. This heat wave was the deadliest documented natural disaster in Multnomah County’s history during the past 200 years. While it is difficult to predict the next extreme heat event, it is clear that vulnerable Portlanders need access to cooling systems.
Throughout the months following last summer's extreme heat event, the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) staff gathered input from community partners and worked with the PCEF Grant Committee to develop and design a program to connect vulnerable low-income Portlanders with efficient portable heat pump/cooling devices, in alignment with Portland City Code Chapter 7.07 (i.e., PCEF Code).
Initial program goals
The following original program goals were defined at the beginning of the PCEF Heat Response Grant program:
Reduce heat related risk to vulnerable populations by distributing and installing portable heat pump/cooling units in households, prioritizing those with seniors among PCEF priority populations (low-income people and people of color).
Use PCEF Guiding Principles in design and deployment.
Begin distribution in May/June 2022 with implementation taking place over a period of up to 5 years to distribute up to 15,000 portable heat pump/cooling units.
Promote energy efficient installation and use, as well as connection to programs that lower energy bills.
Provide support that maintains product life, efficient operation, and usability.
Eligibility and vulnerable populations
PCEF seeks to provide life-saving and efficient portable heat pump/cooling equipment to Portland’s low-income residents, prioritizing those most vulnerable to the impacts of extreme heat fueled by climate change.
In order to be eligible to receive a cooling unit, a recipient must live in the City of Portland, and have an income that is 60% or less of the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size. A chart of income and household size thresholds is available here.
For the distribution of efficient portable heat pump/cooling equipment in the PCEF Heat Response program, people who are most at risk are being prioritized by distribution partners. Vulnerable populations are defined as those who are people with low incomes and who are also have two or more of the following risk factors:
- Are over 60 years of age.
- Have medical conditions that increase risk of heat-related illness.
- Are living alone.
Additional risk factors related to type of housing and the intersection with vulnerable groups may be used to identify households for distribution of equipment during program implementation.
Program partners and roles
Equipment Purchasing Partner: Earth Advantage
Role in the Heat Response Program
Earth Advantage was selected by the PCEF committee and approved by the Portland City Council to serve as the manager of program implementation. They are tasked with identifying high-efficiency heat pump and air conditioning units, purchasing and warehousing those units, and effectively distributing them to the community distribution partners (CDPs). In addition, Earth Advantage contractually manages the CDPs in order to ensure the timely, and accurate installation of units in the homes of vulnerable community members.
Information about the current number of cooling units installed can be found on their program dashboard.
About Earth Advantage
Earth Advantage® is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on helping to create an informed and humane residential real estate marketplace that:
- Acknowledges both the climate impacts of housing and the impact climate has on housing;
- Provides all homebuyers and renters with access to sustainability-related information about a home;
- Supports equitable housing outcomes, protecting those most vulnerable from the effects of climate change, and; Recognizes both the personal and societal value that climate-friendly housing creates.
Earth Advantage's team is located across five states with a headquarters in downtown Portland, Oregon in the PAE Living Building. The organization’s commitment to carbon reduction strategies is demonstrated by the 17,000+ individuals who have participated in Earth Advantage training, the approximately 4,000 high-performance residential units certified each year by our green building team, the 30,000+ homes with a verified Home Energy Score, and the over 2 million homes contained in our Green Building Registry.
Community Distribution Partners
The Community Distribution Partners (CDPs) in the Heat Response Program are responsible for identifying and prioritizing recipients, scheduling delivery, installing cooling units, and providing educational materials. There are two categories of CDPs that are providing services in the program:
- Organization that are housing providers
- Community-based organizations that provide services other than housing
How to request a cooling unit
The following information is intended to help eligible Portlanders access a cooling unit through the Heat Response Program. The CDPs are responsible for identifying and selecting recipients in the program, the City of Portland is not selecting recipients.
If you or a loved one are experiencing a heat emergency, we urge you to seek a public cooling space or call 211. For more information about how to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and how to find a cooling shelter or transportation during a heat emergency, visit PublicAlerts
Housing Provider CDPs : If you live in a housing unit managed by one of the following housing providers in the Heat Response Program, you can contact your property manager to determine if you are eligible to receive a cooling unit. Housing providers are currently only serving people who live in the housing that they manage.
- Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare
- Central City Concern
- Hacienda CDC
- Home Forward
- Innovative Housing
- Northwest Housing Alternatives
- PCRI – Portland Community Reinvestment Inc.
- REACH CDC - Note : REACH CDC is only serving people who are homeowners eligible and participating in their Community Builders program. If you live in a rental property managed by REACH CDC, contact one of the community-based organizations below.
- Rose CDC
Community-based organizations: The following organizations are serving low-income Portlanders and have intake processes to determine eligibility and prioritization. If you are Portlander who meets the income qualifications, you can contact one of these organizations to request a cooling unit.
- African American Alliance for Homeownership (Update as of August 18, 2022: Waitlist is closed)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 503-595-3517
- APANO (Update as of August 18, 2022: Waitlist is closed)
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: 971-340-4861
You may be eligible to receive a cooling unit from your medical provider, whether you live in Portland or in another city:
You may be eligible to receive a cooling unit from your medical provider, if you are covered by one of the following organizations: CareOregon, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy, OHSU Health, Providence. Contact Health Share Oregon for more information
- Health Share Oregon
- Phone: 503-416-8090
- For people covered by Trillium Community Health Plan
- Phone (877) 600-5472 | (541) 485-2155 | TTY 711 to request.
- Oregon Health Authority Resources
- Send an email to: OHA Ombuds Program at OHA.OmbudsOffice@odhsoha.oregon.gov
- Phone 1-877-642-0450 - Message line only TTY 711 / Fax: 1-503-934-5023