Summer heat poses major risk for people experiencing homelessness in Valley

Jun 13, 2022, 4:45 AM | Updated: 9:54 am

PHOENIX — Arizona’s brutal summer temperatures leave people experiencing homelessness at high risk and many of them in desperate need of care.

“Every little thing just puts you that much closer to the edge,” Dr. Christopher Pexton with local nonprofit Circle the City told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Pexton works at the Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix. Just outside the medical facility, dozens of tents line the streets.

The tents may offer shade, but they don’t entirely ward off the heat – and Pexton doesn’t mince words when he speaks about how dangerous the heat can be.

“People die of heat-related issues every year in Phoenix,” he said. “Around this area of Phoenix, where there are a lot of unsheltered people, we’ll hear every morning that someone was found in their tent.”

Those without shelter face the same risks as anyone living through Arizona’s extreme summers, including dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn. However, the lack of shelter exposes them to more serious injuries.

“People have been hit by cars and left in the street, then they’re on the pavement for a long period of time” Pexton said. “We see people who have chronic conditions that will get burned just being in their flip-flops on the street.”

Pexton said, above all, the unrelenting heat makes people weak and susceptible to illness. It also makes many pre-existing conditions worse, and their treatment more difficult.

“A lot of medications aren’t made to be exposed to that type of heat for a long period of time,” he said.

That includes life-saving medicine like insulin.

Pexton stresses Circle the City does its best to help those experiencing homelessness, but there are a lot of boxes to check.

“It’s really a multifactorial thing. Water is one piece of it, shelter is another piece of it, protection from the sun is another,” he said.

Although providing water is one of their important services, he said even that is only a start.

“You can be hydrated all day, but if you’re still being exposed, that might not be enough,” Pexton notes.

This summer, there are even more people experiencing homelessness that will need the aid organizations like Circle the City provide.

“The population on campus is double what it was when we started [in 2019],” Pexton said.

He adds many of them are elderly and on fixed incomes, and found themselves without a home because of increased costs.

“So we’re seeing people that are less mobile and more vulnerable outside more,” he says. “It just makes it more critical.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Ducey signs bill directing $335M to build border fence

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Thursday that directs $335 million in state cash to construct virtual or physical fencing along the border with Mexico, part of a $564 million border security funding package that is the most ever spent by the state.
18 hours ago
(KTAR News Photo/Luke Forstner)...

Suspects in shooting of Phoenix officer indicted on first-degree murder charges

Two men accused of shooting a Phoenix police officer earlier this month have been indicted on three felony charges each, authorities said Thursday.
18 hours ago
Protesters shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona Capitol after the Supreme Court...
Kevin Stone

Proposed Arizona ballot initiative to ensure abortion rights running out of time

Proponents of a ballot initiative to amend Arizona’s constitution to guarantee abortion rights have a week left to gather enough signatures to put the issue before voters this year.
18 hours ago
(AP Photo/John Locher)...

Peoria joins other Valley cities in implementing first stage of drought management plan

Peoria on Wednesday became the latest Valley city to announce implementation of the first stage of its drought management plan.
18 hours ago
(Instagram Photos)...
Kevin Stone

Phoenix Mexican restaurant Ladera Taverna closing, will reopen as The Vig

Ladera Taverna y Cocina is saying adios this weekend after six years in Phoenix’s Sunnyslope neighborhood and will be converted into another location of The Vig.
18 hours ago
(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...

MCAO fires prosecutor who falsely charged protest suspects

The longtime Maricopa County Attorney's Office prosecutor whose charges against people arrested at a 2020 protest came under intense scrutiny was officially fired this week.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Summer heat poses major risk for people experiencing homelessness in Valley