<\body> Stories in America: Homeless in the summer heat

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Homeless in the summer heat

It seems like the homeless problem is getting worse in San Francisco, but we rarely hit 90 degrees. This is from the Christian Science Monitor:
"Living outside, whether summertime or wintertime, is both dangerous and life-threatening to the homeless," says Michael Stoops, acting director of the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington. "Phoenix," he adds, "has had a sorry history in dealing with the issue."

That's changing, say experts in Arizona. After 30 homeless people died during a similar hot streak in 2005, officials and faith-based groups in the Phoenix area redoubled efforts to coordinate services for the homeless, ensuring that they have access to shelter, water, and food during the most dangerous times of day.

"The community responded," says Jacki Taylor of the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness. "And not just in Phoenix. There's been a statewide effort to reach out and help care for our men, women, and children on the streets."

In 2006 – the year the National Coalition for the Homeless designated Phoenix as the 17th meanest city in the US (out of 200) for how it treats the homeless – about 7,300 homeless people lived in the metro area, according to Ms. Taylor's group. The number statewide was 14,960.

Phoenix has added hydration stations and "low-demand centers" for women, men, and families, says Taylor. These large, cooled rooms have cots or mats on the floor to temporarily house people who can't find spots in permanent shelters.


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