PHOENIX — The heat affects the homeless in a very morbid critical way.
"It kills them if they don’t have access to water," says Elizabeth Venable, an advocate for the homeless.
She says COVID-19 closures and spiking temperatures are a deadly combination. "It’s terrifying. Water fountains are gone. Bathrooms are gone," says Venable.
Even organizations like the Andre House in Phoenix are rewriting their typical relief strategies. "They used to come into our dining hall during the day and fill our halls. They can't do that anymore," says Elizabeth Wunsch, Director of Volunteer Services and Communication at the Andre House.
Social distancing has made past respite areas unavailable. Andre House has been able to convert outside shaded areas for some relief. The non-profit provides water and ice to guests but Wunsch says care is "very very complicated and the heat only makes it worse."
Another unprecedented challenge due to COVID-19 restrictions, purchasing cases of water. Wunsch says, "We do need donations of water. This is the time of year we typically start getting it."
Meantime, Venable says she visits stores at opening to snag as much water she can for the people who need it most. "Be aware these people will die if we don't."
If you're interested, find more information about donating to the Andre House at andrehouse.org.