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A long, hot summer is beginning.  

On June 13, 2024, HUD announced new guidance regarding the use of HUD money to help ease the burdens and harmful effects caused by extreme heat on 1.6 million residents of Public Housing. 

For resources on extreme heat and to learn more about preparedness and response and available resources for climate resilience funding, visit the collection of resources at HUDExchange

The guidance immediately went into effect. In order to assist older Americans, infants, young children, and people with medical conditions, HUD says that its new guidance to PHAs: 

“… helps to clarify the steps PHAs can take immediately to reduce the threat of extreme heat for residents by providing families with relief during severe or extreme heat periods, to help them afford to cool their homes. These new options allow PHAs to increase utility allowances for residents or forgo surcharges for the use of cooling, so that residents can use air conditioning during periods of severe or extreme heat.” 

Thursday’s guidance, HUD says, is consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s focus on lowering home energy costs for residents in public housing by making it easier to request relief for excess utility expenses, HUD says. 

“We must protect the health and safety of our families during increasingly severe weather events, like extreme heat, that can cause grave harm and even death to any member of our community,” said Acting Secretary Adrianne Todman. “As we transition into the Summer months, the need for public housing residents to access necessary cooling systems is vital and we are assertively taking these steps in the fight against extreme heat.” 

Extreme heat can greatly impact all people and is the leading cause of weather-related deaths every year. There are many ways to mitigate the effects of extreme heat in buildings and this guidance provides PHAs with additional examples of cooling strategies to consider outside of providing air-conditioning. 

While HUD defines extreme heat as a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for a minimum of two to three days, this guidance allows for even more local control by allowing PHAs to define severe or extreme heat more broadly to support families in their communities. 

HUD says that PHAs can choose to provide relief to any family in public housing that requests it, for excess utilities charges due to severe or extreme heat. The new guidance helps PHAs respond rapidly to the threat of heat events and makes it easier for residents to request relief. 

Joe Miksch is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for US Housing Consultants.