TEMPE, AZ — On any given night, it’s estimated there could be almost 7,500 people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County. Of those people, numbers show more than half don’t have shelter.
Arizona State University student Austin Davis told ABC15 he believes those numbers have only gone up since the pandemic began. He would know because he’s out on the streets about five days a week trying to help them, whether it’s by bringing them a meal, their favorite book, or a friendly conversation.
He does it through an organization with Arizona Jews for Justice called Arizona HUGS for the Houseless. The acronym, HUGS, stands for Houseless dignity, Understanding and empathy, Generosity, and Soul and smiles.
Davis told ABC15 about the struggles he saw people experiencing homelessness face through the extreme heat of the summer and how he made that a priority in his mission. Most days, he goes around with a spray bottle full of ice water to cool down people who are overheating, or with cold bottles of water for people to stay hydrated.
“I was just with someone five minutes ago who was telling me, ‘This heat is killing my friends and it’s so hot I want to rip my hair out,’” Davis said. “Some of my closest friends have died this summer or last from the heat. It’s really scary.”
Davis said he believes a lost job or an overwhelming medical bill from this pandemic may have caused more people to move to the streets.
If you’re interested in donating to Arizona HUGS for the Homeless, visit this link.