Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability's Cooling Portland Program Hits Two-Year, 7,000-Unit Goal

November 6, 2023

Portland, Ore. — The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s (BPS) Cooling Portland: A PCEF-Funded Climate resilience program reached another major milestone ahead of schedule by distributing and installing over 7,000 energy-efficient heat pump/cooling units.

In its inaugural year, Cooling Portland set a goal of installing 3,000 units to Portlanders most at risk of adverse health complications due to excessive heat. This goal was surpassed with 3,100 units being installed in 2022. Building on this success, the program increased this year’s target to 4,000 units in 2023.

"Cooling Portland was created with the expertise of our community partners who deeply understand what climate resilience can look like in our Portland neighborhoods," said Commissioner Carmen Rubio. "I’m thrilled that the program is already exceeding goals, demonstrating what can be accomplished when we involve and invest in our communities."

Cooling Portland’s partners and roles
Cooling Portland was designed to distribute 15,000 efficient heat pump/cooling units over a period of five years. To effectively accomplish that goal, responsibilities for the program are divided into three distinct roles:

Grant manager: PCEF serves as Cooling Portland’s grant and program manager, providing administration and oversight of grant funds and selecting community distribution partners.

Equipment purchasing partner: Earth Advantage was selected by the PCEF Committee and ultimately approved by the Portland City Council to serve as Cooling Portland’s equipment purchasing partner. Earth Advantage purchases and warehouses high-efficiency heat pump and air-conditioning units and distributes those units to community distribution partners (CDPs). Earth Advantage is also responsible for the contractual management of CDPs to ensure timely, accurate, and safe installation of units in the homes of vulnerable community members.

Community Distribution Partners: CDPs directly serve the community — identifying and prioritizing recipients based on eligibility criteria, scheduling delivery, installing units, and providing education materials. CDPs fall into one-of-two categories: Housing providers or community-based organizations that provide other types of services.

"We are grateful for the incredible work by Earth Advantage and our Community Distribution Partners in reaching this milestone in the program," said Cooling Portland Project Manager Jaimes Valdez. "After another unseasonably hot summer, the need for a safe and comfortable home is greater than ever. Our partners have responded to our community with the urgency and compassion needed right now as we all face a changing climate."

Cooling Portland provides efficient heat pump/cooling units to Portland’s low-income residents, prioritizing those most at risk of adverse health impacts of extreme heat.

Eligibility for the program requires recipients to live in the City of Portland and have an income that is 60% or less of the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size. Priority is given to vulnerable populations, defined as those with low incomes who also have two or more of the following risk factors:
  • Are over age 60
  • Have medical conditions that increase risk of heat-related illness
  • Are living alone
  • How to request a cooling unit
  • The CDPs are responsible for identifying and selecting recipients for the Cooling Portland program. To enquire about receiving a cooling unit, Portlanders should contact a participating CDP based on their individual circumstances. Some CDPs are only accepting applications seasonally.

Housing Provider CDPs: Portlanders living in a housing unit managed by one of the following participating housing providers should contact their property managers to determine their eligibility:
  • Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare
  • Central City Concern
  • Home Forward
  • Innovative Housing
  • Northwest Housing Alternatives
  • Housing providers are currently only serving people currently living in housing they manage.

Community-Based organizations: The following organizations are serving low-income Portlanders and have intake processes to determine eligibility and prioritization.
  • African American Alliance for Homeownership
  • Ecumenical Ministry of Oregon (EMO)
  • Latino Network
  • Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA)
  • Northwest Native Chamber (NNC)
  • Somali American Council of Oregon (SACOO)
  • Verde
Earth Advantage, appointed by City Council to manage program implementation of Cooling Portland, hosts a real-time dashboard of the program’s progress on their website.

“We are incredibly proud of our Community Distribution Partners, and everyone who has worked on the Cooling Portland Program this year,” said Pilar Calderin, Climate Justice Program Manager for Earth Advantage. “Thanks to their hard work and dedication, more than 7,000 vulnerable Portlanders now have access to life-saving cooling equipment that enables them to remain safe and secure in their homes, even in the midst of extreme heat events.”

“Home Forward is proud to have been a Community Distribution Partner in Portland Clean Energy Fund's Cooling Portland program for the past two years,” said Environmental and Emergency Project Coordinator Jacob Henderson. “Our community's wellbeing is our primary value, and through this partnership we have been able to install high quality, efficient heat pumps for Portland's low and no income residents, doing our piece to keep people safe and comfortable. We sincerely appreciate the program and the benefits it provides to people who live in Home Forward homes. We look forward to continuing the partnership for the remainder of the program.”

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.

Read the original article here: https://www.portland.gov/bps/cleanenergy/news/2023/11/6/portland-bureau-planning-and-sustainabilitys-cooling-portland