Broken AC, no money leave low-income residents facing scorching heat

Socorro Carbajal uses a wet towel to keep cool during record high temperatures. But it’s a brief respite. She can’t affored to have her AC unit repaired. (Photo by Patricio G. Espinoza/Cronkite News)

Socorro Carbajal, 76, finds out her AC unit needs a new compressor that will cost about $2,000. She is seeking financial help from pilot program to help low-income residents. (Photo by Patricio G. Espinoza/ Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Socorro Carbajal is 76 years old, lives on the limits of Social Security and can’t afford to have her home’s central air conditioning unit repaired.

She places wet towels on her neck for a brief reprieve.

“All I can do is have all the fans on,” Carbajal said. “The night is rough but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Local nonprofit organizations – working with local governments – have programs to help low-income residents pay for repairs or replacement, according to Katie Martin, who heads the pilot program for FSL Home Improvements.

But the wait time for help is long and money is limited, Martin said. Only four families have received aid so far this summer, she said. And in many cases they may wait one to three months to work through the process. Funding for the program comes from unclaimed consumer deposits to utility companies, Martin said.

At least half of the people who need help are disabled or elderly. Carbajal found her AC system needs a new compressor that will cost about $2,000. She is in the process of applying for help from the program, but she will likely borrow the funds to cover the repairs.

How to apply: Visit the FSL Home Improvements website or call (602) 532-2976.

How to donate: Give to FSL online or the Arizona Community Action Association, which provides different ways to help those living in poverty.

(Video by Patricio G. Espinoza/Cronkite News)