NEWBERG, Ore. — Earlier this month, tenants at a low-income housing complex in Newberg known as Haworth Terrace received eviction notices for having window-mounted air conditioners.
The Yamhill County Housing Authority, which runs the property, said they were fire hazards and posed an egress issue. The tenants were allowed to have portable units but couldn’t afford them.
A KGW News viewer watched the story, which aired Monday on KGW, and stepped up to help, purchasing three portable AC units from Ankeny Hardware. With the help of the store owner, they delivered the units for free.
“Thank you so much. God bless you. Bless you,” one woman said through tears as a portable AC unit showed up on her doorstep Wednesday morning.
“Thank you so much. You just have no idea how this has impacted our community here,” added another.
“We’re just all uplifted. It’s done amazing things — not just cooling our house but warming our hearts,” said Mary McGrew. She has multiple sclerosis, which she said gets worse in the heat.
Kim Stark was the KGW viewer who bought the three portable AC units, spending $1,500.
“It’s a good day. It’s a miracle day,” Stark said. “I felt very bad for them and I wanted to help them … I’ll share what I have with people. I wish I was wealthier because I would buy more air conditioners for everybody here.”
“I was amazed. I was flabbergasted,” said Norman Chusid, who runs Ankeny Hardware where Stark bought the units. “We’re happy to deliver them for free and get them into each unit and so that’s what we did today.”
Niki Sherman, one of the women who faced eviction from Haworth Terrace, will finally sleep well after weeks of suffering without AC.
“I won’t get migraines because I’ll be cool. My legs and feet swell when it’s hot and so I won’t have to deal with that as much,” Sherman said. “This just took such a big load of stress off our shoulders because we’ve been so worried about losing our housing.”
A tenant’s right to AC has been a hot topic for state lawmakers, particularly after the deadly heat dome event last summer. They took action back in March, passing a bill allowing tenants the right to install AC in their apartments.
Representative Pam Marsh chairs the legislature's Environment and Natural Resources Committee and pointed out that the bill is laced with restrictions and still needs work, leading to situations like this one.
“Conditions on the ground are changing in a way that we have to make sure Oregonians are safe,” said Rep. Marsh.
“After last year, and people dying from the heat, they need air conditioning,” added Chusid.
With these rising temperatures, it’s become more of a pressing issue. So representatives like Marsh are looking for feedback. If your lease doesn’t allow you to install AC units, you're encouraged to contact your state representative.