In 2019, more individuals experiencing homelessness than ever before were victims of heat-associated death, according to the Maricopa County Public Health annual report.
Last year, 67 individuals, or 37% of the 197 who died from heat-related causes, were unhoused at the time of their deaths. In 2018, 61 individuals experiencing homeless died from the heat, a record at the time, according to a release.
Historically, 100-degree days begin in May, “but this year we’re already ahead of that curve and in combination with the coronavirus pandemic, the need for water and other protective items for the unhoused population is that much greater,” Amy Schwabenlender said in the release. She is executive director of the Human Services Campus where 16 independent nonprofit and governmental organizations collaborate on services and resources for individuals experiencing homelessness. “We estimate that we’ll need 60,000 bottles of water every month from May through October.”
Campus staff and community volunteers started monthly water drives on the third Saturday of each month and community groups have been donating water in-between.
In addition to cases of bottled water, which can be scheduled for drop-off by calling 602-282-0849 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, other items being collected for the summer include:
Community members interested in participating in the drive can visit the HSC Amazon Wish List at https://tinyurl.com/qn2ttb6 or by making an online donation to help cover the cost of the needed items at the HSC website, http://www.hsc-az.org.
Founded in 2005, the Human Services Campus is a collaborative force of partner organizations united on one campus to end homelessness.
Located just west of downtown Phoenix, 16 independent agencies on the campus see nearly 1,000 individuals every day, offering a holistic range of client services including: reunification with family and friends; mental, physical and dental health; shelter; employment; meals; legal services and housing, the release states.