Portlanders in need can now dial 311 or go online to request free air conditioning units ahead of summer months

Press Release
Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) partnering with PDX 311 to expand the reach of its Cooling Portland program
Published

Portland, Ore., June 11, 2024—Portlanders can now dial 3-1-1 or go online to apply for a free cooling unit in advance of the hot summer months. Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) is partnering with PDX 311 to equitably expand the reach of its Cooling Portland program, which connects people in need with free, efficient, and portable units that provide cooling and heating.

“Integrating PDX 311 allows us to connect with Portlanders in need and keep people safe ahead of the next heat wave or cold snap,” said PCEF Strategic Partnership and Policy Manager Jaimes Valdez. “Portlanders who need a cooling unit should get on the list before summer starts to heat up.”

Improving lives one cooling device at a time

PCEF launched Cooling Portland in June 2022 in response to the deadly June 2021 Northwest heat dome. Its goal is to install 15,000 efficient cooling devices in the homes of low-income people, with priority for those over 60, those with medical needs, and those who live alone. It has installedmore than 8,000 units in Portland homes to date.

“Because Cooling Portland is not an emergency response program during heat waves, people are encouraged to apply as soon as possible,” Valdez said. “This gives the program partners time to verify eligibility, order cooling units, and schedule installation to their homes.”

Cooling Portland is managed by Earth Advantage, which partners with community organizations and housing providers to reach those who need cooling devices. 

How to apply for a free cooling unit

To get a cooling unit, Portlanders can talk to a PDX 311 staffer by calling 3-1-1 (or 503-823-4000 if using VOIP phones) or filling out a secure web-based form. PDX 311 is available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day; staffers speak many languages and can easily connect interpreters for other languages. Share the language you wish to speak and allow 2-5 minutes for connection.  

If the applicant meets the program’s eligibility requirements, they will be added to the community partners’ installation list. Currently, most eligible applicants receive a highly efficient portable device that can cool during hot weather and provide supplemental heat in cold weather, Valdez said.

Cooling Portland’s additional services 

Some Cooling Portland community can also connect people with other helpful programs to reduce utility bills, such as:

A growing portfolio of essential services

PDX 311 was launched by the City of Portland and Multnomah County in July 2022. It provides Portland residents with a first point of contact – in person, online, or over the phone – to find information, report issues, or request local government services. 

“PDX 311 helped about 168,000 Multnomah County residents by phone, e-mail, and in person in 2023,” PDX 311 Program Manager Michelle Kunec-North said. “We help in many ways. The 311 team can help community members with everything from noise complaints and abandoned cars to applications for downtown business grants. Connecting to your government is as easy as calling 3-1-1.”


About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) develops creative and practical solutions to enhance Portland’s livability, preserve distinctive places and plan for a resilient future. BPS collaborates with community partners to provide comprehensive land use, neighborhood, district, economic, historic and environmental planning, and urban design; research, policy and technical services to advance green building, energy efficiency and the use of solar and renewable energy, waste prevention, composting and recycling, and a sustainable food system; and policy and actions to address climate change.

About the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund

The Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) initiative was passed by 65% of Portland voters in November 2018. It provides a consistent, long-term funding source and oversight structure to ensure that our community's climate action efforts are implemented to support social, economic and environmental benefits for all Portlanders, particularly communities of color and low-income residents. The initiative was supported by a broad coalition of groups and individuals and represents the first environmental initiative in Oregon led by communities of color.