July 30, 2023 -DENVER (AP) — As Denver neared triple-digit temperatures, Ben Gallegos sat shirtless on his porch swatting flies off his legs and spritzing himself with a misting fan to try to get through the heat. Gallegos, like many in the nation’s poorest neighborhoods, doesn’t have air conditioning.
The 68-year-old covers his windows with mattress foam to insulate against the heat and sleeps in the concrete basement. He knows high temperatures can cause heat stroke and death, and his lung condition makes him more susceptible. But the retired bricklayer, who survives on about $1,000 a month largely from Social Security, says air conditioning is out of reach.
“Take me about 12 years to save up for something like that,” he said. “If it’s hard to breathe, I’ll get down to emergency.”