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CASS ready for influx of homeless due to heat

PHOENIX — Homeless men and women will be seeking relief as temperatures continue to rise in the Valley, and that has Phoenix’s shelters getting ready for an influx of people in need.

CEO Mark Holleran of Central Arizona Shelter Services near downtown Phoenix said there are two times a year when they see an increase in the demand for shelter.

“Sometimes in the winter we have cold and in the summer we have excessive heat warnings,” he said.

Holleran said in 2005 about 30 people died on the streets of Phoenix due to the heat, so CASS has decided to make extra arraignments whenever the U.S. Weather Bureau announces excessive heat warnings that are expected to last into the night.

“We will open up additional facilities on campus that typically we don’t use for residential programs,” he said. “We will open those up and say, ‘Anyone who wants in off the street can get in.'”

When high temperatures continue into evening and nighttime hours, that’s when Holleran said people are especially at risk or heat related illnesses or death.
Last year the shelter opened additional housing for about 20 days and Holleran said it’s important for people to get some relief from the heat.

“They can recharge, they can recover from the heat during the day,” he said.

Holleran said they’ll be ready for any potential heat warnings, which could be coming this week with high temperatures projected in the forecast.

“We keep people safe, we get people to tomorrow — if nothing else we get them to tomorrow,” he said. “Then they can pursue options that deal with their personal reasons for being homeless.”

Holleran said the shelter welcomes financial donations as well as clothes such as short-sleeve shirts, hats, sunscreen and water.