PHOENIX - With overnight low temperatures in the Phoenix area expected to be in the 30s, those experiencing homelessness are at risk.
Whether the Valley is facing extreme heat or extreme cold, organizations that help the unsheltered population are working overtime to keep them safe, and on Jan. 24, these organizations are doing the same thing.
Officials with Central Arizona Shelter Services, commonly known as CASS, say they are taking in up to 750 people nightly at their two main shelters: 600 for adults and up to 150 beds for families.
"Our senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to the weather with their health issues,"said Lisa Glow. "If they have chronic health issues, if they physical disabilities or mental health challenges or maybe dementia, we have got to really do everything we can to get them off the streets as quickly as possible."
CASS workers also hand out blankets and warm clothes at their Glendale center. That center is not a shelter, but it does serve about 500 people monthly. Glow says the need for their services is growing more than ever.
"It's also important that we provide people with warm clothing and blankets, because we don’t have enough shelter or housing for people right now, and that’s the tragedy," said Glow.
Meanwhile, a group known as the Human Services Campus provides emergency shelter 24/7.
"We are trying to make sure that every nook and cranny that we can put somebody in, that we do that," said Richard Crews. "That also means that in our Welcome Center, even if somebody has to come in to sit for the night so that they are out of the cold, that we are going to do that. I am not going to push you out."
In the last fiscal year, officials with the City of Phoenix said they dedicated nearly $50 million towards shelters, increased afforadable housing and mental health services. In June, the Phoenix City Council approved more than $70 million in affordable housing and homelessness programs, including a new shelter in partnership with Maricopa County.
Meanwhile, the Office of Homelessness Solutions created 592 new shelter beds in the region. This year and into the next, they plan to create more than 800 beds.
"Just like our summer heat is deadly, this cold can also be just as deadly too for those that are on the streets," said Crews.
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