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Orange County

Community Action Division helps low-income seniors stay cool


“This is actually a very important issue, especially for low-income seniors,” said Ben Paquin, program manager, Orange County Family Services. “It can become quite dangerous for seniors who don’t have A/C, and some have been living without it for a few years, which is unfathomable when you consider how hot it gets here in the summer months.”

Program services include automatically replacing the air conditioner if the unit is more than 10 years old or there are mismatched units.  The program also provides service and cleaning; installs smart thermostats with auto-function capability; provides A/C filters; and repair/seal ductwork. Seniors are also taught how to operate an efficient A/C and thermostat.

“There’s no cost to the homeowner, but we do get backlogged because applicants need to go through the approval process and we need to schedule local contractors to do the work,” explained Paquin, who has about 50 homes on his waiting list. “Living in Florida, we take air conditioning for granted, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t have working A/C units.”

Paquin affirmed the large majority of A/C units need to be replaced because they are 10 years old or older, which makes them ineffective and unreliable. From the County’s perspective, the goal is to help keep seniors in their homes — whether by repairing or replacing A/C units — so seniors can age in place and not have to leave because living conditions are unsafe.

“In Florida, air conditioning is a basic human need, so it’s about providing this need for elderly residents and allowing them to stay in their homes,” asserted Paquin. “The houses they grew up in have old or broken air conditioners at this point, and they can’t afford to fix it or get a new one, so if we can help with that, it’s our responsibility to do so.”

To qualify for the program, residents must be 60 years of age or older and already have qualified for Weatherization Assistance Program, or qualified for Family Self-Sufficiency Program, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Food Stamps or Section 8 Housing.

Orange County Community Action is a division of the Community and Family Services Department. For more on its programs and services, as well as its seven Community Centers, go to Community Action Division. Residents interested in the program can contact Ben Paquin at 407-836-0918 or Ben.Paquin@ocfl.net.

Orange County Community Action Division, Orange County, Air Conditioners, Community and Family Services Department, Family Self-Sufficiency Program, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, How can I qualify for these programs?


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