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Air conditioning fails at James Sneider Apartments, where three women died during May heat wave

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CBS News Chicago Live

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The air conditioning went out Tuesday night at the James Sneider Apartments in Rogers Park, the same building where three women died during sweltering conditions amid a heat wave in May.

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) wrote in a post on Facebook that the building's management is taking steps to provide temporary cooling to tenants. A cooling center has been established to help provide relief for residents. 

"I was notified this evening that the a/c is out at James Sneider Apartments due to a mechanical failure. Crews are onsite resolving the issue and the management has taken extra steps to provide individual cooling units to every resident in case they can't fix it in a timely manner. We are monitoring the situation closely and just wanted to inform the community," Hadden wrote.

In a phone interview, Hadden said the property manager was installing individual air conditioning units in all of the apartments, because repair crews had to stop electrical work for the night, but they are confident the problem will be fixed on Wednesday.

The building's air conditioning went down on a day when temperatures reached as high as 94° and the heat index hit as high as 105° in Chicago, prompting a heat advisory that expired at 8 p.m.

Three women died at that apartment building in May, when the air conditioning was kept off in the building despite repeated complaints to the management about the heat. Some residents said their apartments reached 102 degrees.

The City Council has since passed a new cooling ordinance requiring senior housing complexes and other large apartment buildings to soon provide air-conditioned cooling centers.

The ordinance, sponsored Hadden, would require any housing complex for seniors to provide cooling systems in all common areas, capable of keeping the inside temperature at no more than 75° and the inside humidity at no more than 50% whenever the outdoor temperature is 92° and the "wet bulb temperature," a measurement of heat and humidity separate from the more common "heat index," reaches at least 75°.

In addition, any residential buildings with at least 100 dwelling units would be required to provide a permanent cooling system capable of maintaining an indoor temperature of 75° and an indoor humidity of no more than 50% in one common area whenever the outdoor temperature is 92° and the "wet bulb temperature" is at least 75°.

In both cases, those buildings would have to have to have temporary cooling systems in place by July 31, and permanent systems installed by May 1, 2024.

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