Extreme heat increases Arizona shelter demands

PHOENIX - An excessive heat warning was issued for Maricopa County this week which means that Central Arizona Shelter Services will receive an increase in demand.

Each night, CASS provides shelter to over 900 men, women and children and when extreme heat hits the Valley that number usually increases around 22 percent to over 1,100.

Heat-related deaths are a fact during the summer in the Arizona desert and the 8,000 men, women and children that are experiencing homelessness are even more susceptible to it. They are more exposed to the sun which increases their risk for illness and death.

Irving Williams is homeless and sleeps at CASS every night.

“This place if a gift from God,” said Williams. “It’s a safe haven.”

Between 2000 and 2012, there were more than 1,500 heat-related deaths and each year nearly 2,000 people visit Arizona emergency rooms for heat-related illnesses.

CASS provides shelter to these men, women and children and tries to decrease the deaths and illnesses by not turning anybody away during the extreme heat conditions.

“This is the best homeless shelter in the U.S.,” said Williams.

CASS also distributes heat relief health kits and bottled water to help aid those who may suffer from extreme heat.

If you would like to donate to CASS to help their efforts, visit their website.

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