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ACORN Hamilton and allies win expansion of subsidized AC support program for low-income tenants - ACORN Canada

ACORN Hamilton and allies win expansion of subsidized AC support program for low-income tenants

Posted June 4, 2024

On Monday, June 3rd, ACORN Hamilton members attended a Public Health Committee meeting, where Council met to discuss an expansion of the subsidized air conditioner program that would increase the number of AC units provided from 50 to 150 and broaden eligibility criteria.

ACORN submitted a written delegation in support of the expansion, in partnership with Environment Hamilton, Canadian Environmental Law Association, and Hamilton Community Legal Clinic. Two delegates, Daniel Chin of the Hamilton and District Apartment Association and James Kemp of the Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, also spoke in support of the program’s expansion. The landlord lobby rep also expressed their association’s opposition to a future max heat bylaw and warned it could decrease housing supply – something ACORN strongly disputes.

The Committee voted 13-1 in favour of expanding and aligning the eligibility of the existing Ontario Works air conditioner subsidy of $350 toward the purchase of an energy efficient air conditioner, currently available to households receiving social assistance, to include all low-income households who are most vulnerable to heat because of a severe medical condition, funded through the City’s Climate Change Reserve up to a limit of $52,500.00. An amendment that City staff conduct an analysis of the expanded program to inform future work of the City’s extreme heat response was also passed 14-0. Staff are due to report back to the Public Health Committee with their analysis in Q4 of 2024.


On April 29th we delegated to the Public Health committee in support of the 2024 heat response strategy and urged Councillors to consider the following additions:

  1. A temporary free air conditioning program targeted to low-income people and/or people most vulnerable to heat because of a medical condition or age.
  2. The City of Hamilton to move forward this summer with offering free HSR fares during heat warnings. (Result: 2000 special transit tickets distributed to community centres and cooling kits, 100 tickets to ACORN)
  3. All items in the Heat Response Plan to be funded for summer 2024 and include clear timelines for implementation.

The climate crisis is inherently unfair, leaving those who have historically contributed the least to the crisis suffering the most, globally as well as locally. We are looking forward to supporting Council and staff in implementing an adequate temperature by-law. In the meantime, an expanded free air conditioner program is an interim emergency measure to protect the health of some of our most vulnerable neighbours across the City.

Using $52,500 of the City’s $2.5 million climate change reserve fund to protect vulnerable residents this summer and afford them basic comfort in their homes is an impactful and financially prudent short-term solution to the problem of extreme heat. Council must act with urgency when people’s health is at stake.

Our coalition looks forward to continuing to work with city staff and City Councillors on this important issue.