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'The heat makes everybody cranky': Windsor refugee centre appealing for relief after air conditioners go on the fritz

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Three out of four air conditioners at Matthew House in Windsor on Forest Glade Drive have stopped working in the midst of an extended extreme heat wave across all of southwestern Ontario.

The executive director of the temporary shelter for people seeking refugee status said 78 men, women, and children are doing their best to cope with the heat and humidity.

"It's really hard for our residents," Mike Morency told CTV News. "The heat makes everybody cranky. Doesn't matter where you come from."

Morency said staff are trying their best to help people remain comfortable, while also helping them become self-sufficient, contributing members of the community, noting the number of refugee claimants entering Canada is up over 50 per cent from last year.

"We know that last year was already a record breaking year," Morency said.

"It makes it hard for people to think," Morency explained. "It makes it hard for people to sleep. It therefore has impacts on their relationships with others, their ability to attend to things like a job search, housing search, meeting with their lawyer."

Mike Morency, executive director of Matthew House, on June 19, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

He continued, "We have a woman with us right now with asthma. The heat makes it hard for her to breathe. She's having to use her puffer more. She's having to spend some time in our office, which is at present the only place in the building that has AC. It really has long reaching effects."

Morency said the charity has always relied on donations, and is now appealing to the community for spare fans or portable air conditioners, noting the cost to replace their current 30-year-old system could reach upwards of $60,000.

"We're looking for a number of sleeve air conditioners that we could put into some of our rooms and apartments or some commercial fans to really get air moving. And then the reality is, is we have to replace these units and that's about $10-15,000 per unit,” he said. "We are trying our very best."

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