Local non-profit helps unsheltered homeless escape the summer heat

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It’s that time of year when triple-digit temperatures start popping up, and that means added concern for those experiencing homelessness. To learn more about what’s being done to help get resources to those in need in the summer months, we welcome Amy Schwabenlender, executive director of the Human Services Campus.

The Human Services Campus is a non-profit resource center serving the homeless population in Phoenix. According to the Human Services Campus website, the center is “a collaborative force of 16 partner organizations with the shared outcome of ending homelessness for people every day.”

Services offered by the organization include housing, medical care and employment resources.

What are the main challenges faced when helping this community during the summer?

A big factor this year is the unprecedented number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, according to Schwabenlender. One initiative the non-profit has executed is creating shaded areas with bottled water and other resources to help unsheltered people cool down.

“That does give us another opportunity to have a conversation with them, so we can have our outreach staff check in, give people options on how we might be able to help you move from this unsheltered, unhoused situation to housing,” Schwabenlender said.

Another problem created by the hot temperatures is that tempers can rise among people while stuck in the heat.

“One thing that will start to happen, probably a little bit more, but those negative interactions between people, because they’re living outside when it’s going to be 115 degrees.”

Are local governments and agencies prepared to help the population this summer?

Despite the increased need for resources this summer, Schwabenlender is encouraged by local municipalities starting the discussion in the earlier, cooler months of the year. 

“I’m glad, I’m optimistic, that I think the situation has been escalated, people are starting to talk about it sooner.”

The Human Services Campus runs an annual water drive from May through September. More information can be found at https://hsc-az.org/2022-thirstaid/  

Maricopa County also offers a heat network with maps showing cooling and water stations around the Valley. Collection locations for donated goods like lip balm, sunscreen and other peoducts can also be found at https://www.maricopa.gov/2461/Cooling-Stations-Water-Donation

Amy Schwabenlender, executive director of the Human Services Campus

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