Unsheltered community in Phoenix area facing winter weather as advocates try to help

A big winter storm hitting parts of Arizona, bringing rain, snow, and freezing temperatures means many people are changing their plans, but it also means those who don't have a roof over their heads are looking for ways to stay warm and dry. 

When one of the homeless shelters didn't have enough beds last year, Vicky slept on the streets and got sick out in the cold.

"It was pretty tough. I ended up sick in the hospital with pneumonia for five days," she said.

This year, she'll be inside the Respite Center and out of the cold.

"I feel safe in there," she said.


With a growing homeless population in the Valley, not everyone has a chance to escape the frost.

"Well, they need blankets and pillows most of all," says Robert Alexander with Bird City Outreach, an advocacy group passing out food in downtown Phoenix where many unsheltered people are living.

"There's a lot of people who come out here and do what I do, and they're all appreciated," he said.

Others, like Stacey Champion, are helping on their own whenever they see someone in need.

"Just yesterday I dropped off a winter coat and a cold weather sleeping bag and some thermal socks to an unhoused Vietnam veteran who's unsheltered …," she said.

With temps dropping, she's asking everyone else in the community to step up.

"We have an affordable housing crisis. We have more and more, especially seniors, who are on fixed incomes, who are ending up on the street. They're going to be more susceptible. People do die here from the cold as they do from heat," Champion said.