Summer heat is extra threatening to Valley's homeless population

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By Jayson Chesler By Jayson Chesler

PHOENIX -- With temperatures surpassing 110 degrees, the heat is a problem for everyone in the Valley. However, for the more than 28,000 homeless men, women and children in Arizona, the heat can be life threatening.

The Human Services Campus near the state capitol provides a number of services under one roof for those dealing with homelessness. During the summer, the most important of those services is just the building's cool air, according to David Bridge, the campus' managing director.

"When it gets this hot, we'll basically take in anyone who needs it," Bridge said. "Regardless of background, regardless of issues, we don't ask questions. We just, basically, provide the shelter so that people have a safe place to be."

Volunteers at the campus, like Shayna Wardlow, pass out bottled water to those in need. Dehydration is a threat to anyone caught outside during the heat, let alone those with limited or no shelter from the weather.

"They're hot and they need water," Wardlow said. "A lot of them are struggling with not having any resources and they're just in this hundred-and-whatever-degree weather, so it's hard. It's hot."

Those receiving help at the campus echoed Wardlow's thoughts on the challenges the heat creates, with one person saying that the building provided a place to cool off and another saying that he has to do whatever he can to survive in the heat.

The number of overnight residents in the campus jumps by a few hundred per night during the summer, as it's too hot to sleep on the streets, according to Human Services staff.

Bridge said that the best and easiest way that people can help those in need during the summer heat is by donating water.