In a first, HUD will pay air conditioning bills for residents

By Thomas Frank | 06/24/2024 06:19 AM EDT

The department has long refused to pay cooling costs in public housing.

A maintenance worker cleans the grounds of a public housing building in New York City.

The Biden administration is helping public housing residents pay for cooling. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Ann Chanecka realized why the public housing apartment was so warm as soon as she entered the unit in Tucson, Arizona — the air conditioner was turned off.

“Families are reluctant to turn on their air conditioner,” said Chanecka, Tucson’s deputy director of housing and community development.

The reason: Public-housing residents have to pay their own cooling costs, unlike other utility bills that are included in their monthly rent.


The Biden administration took a significant step toward protecting the nation’s 1.6 million public housing residents from heat by agreeing to pay air conditioning costs for those who ask. Forecasters say this summer could be the hottest on record.