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NYC Installs Thousands Of Air Conditioners For Low-Income Seniors, Increases Help On Summer Utility Bills

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Bill de Blasio provided an update Friday on his plan to keep New Yorkers safe during the hot summer months.

The fight against the coronavirus isn't over. Most people at Coney Island beach are wearing face coverings, reported CBS2's Kevin Rincon.

With the official start of summer a week away, the heat is becoming a major concern.

"So many seniors who are lower income are suffering. Right now, we need to make sure they are protected against the heat ahead," de Blasio said.

The mayor introduced what he called "Get Cool NYC" last month after announcing the city's public pools would remain closed due to health concerns and budget cuts.


"The idea of 'Get Cool NYC' is to focus on those who are most vulnerable, make sure they are safe, make sure they are kept cool even with some of the challenges of the coronavirus and even with some of the adjustments we've had to make," he said Thursday.

The plan involves spending $55 million on 74,000 air conditioners for low-income seniors, including 22,000 for people in public housing.

De Blasio said 4,500 have been installed so far, and the goal is to add 1,500 a day.

WATCH: Mayor De Blasio Discusses 'Get Cool NYC' Initiative For Summer Heat 

"The city has already started installing air conditioning units for low income seniors, and they intend to use, in all, $70 million dollars worth of grant money," de Blasio said.

That cash will help offset the cost of electric bills over the summer.

The mayor also said the New York State Public Service Commission has agreed to double the number of subsidies it provides to help residents pay their utility bills.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Almost 440,000 New York City families will benefit because of this decision by the state Public Service Commission, and the average savings per customer will be about $140 this summer," he said. "That's, for a lot of families in this city, a lot of money."

So far, 25,000 seniors have enrolled in the program, including Jenni Rivera.

"It's good, because a majority of the time I'm inside the house. I don't come out as much because of this COVID-19 thing," Rivera said.

Anthony lives across the street along Surf Avenue. He says a summer with air conditioning would be huge.

"Makes a world of difference for me," he said. "Right now I don't even have gas or hot water, so air conditioning would be a treat," he said.

Meanwhile, the mayor says New Yorkers hoping to beat the heat by going to the pool or into the water at the beach, they're going to have to wait until at least the end of the month to find out if an when it's time to jump back in. Earlier this week, he said "now we can start a conversation" about the possibility of reopening the pools and beaches.

During his daily press briefing, de Blasio talked about the city's first week of Phase 1 reopening and how many people headed back to work.

He said mass transit ridership increased 25% on subways, 23% on buses and 31% on the Staten Island Ferry between June 3 and June 10. Traffic into Manhattan increased 17% on the East River bridges and 14% on Harlem River bridges.

The mayor also reminded New Yorkers to vote in the upcoming June 23 primary elections. Early voting begins June 13 and the deadline to request an absentee ballot is June 16.



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