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Heat of the Day Respite Center Opens at Phoenix Convention Center

by Taylor Bishop
Community Taylor Bishop June 4, 2020

The Heat of the Day Respite Center at the Phoenix Convention Center South Building opened on, Friday, May 29, providing shelter on excessive heat days to our most vulnerable residents now through the end of summer.

On excessive heat days issued by the National We​ather Service, buses will begin picking up those experiencing homelessness near the Human Services Campus at 9 a.m. and will make a stop every hour to transport individuals with a valid Human Services Campus identification card to the Phoenix Convention Center to escape the heat.

July is typically the most deadly month in Arizona when it comes to heat‐caused deaths, according to the Maricopa Association of Governments. The high daytime temperatures, coupled with the high nighttime temperatures, makes this time of year very dangerous.

“The Respite Center will legitimately help save lives this summer,” said Samantha Jackson, Sr. Director of Strategy & Community Affairs at Downtown Phoenix Partnership. “It’s a place where people can remain in cooler temperatures with access to water and restrooms.”

The area at the Phoenix Convention Center will have tables and chairs spaced for television viewing and meals. The City of Phoenix is partnering with St. Vincent de Paul to provide both lunch and dinner, while ensuring those seeking refuge have access to water.

“For those that experience homelessness, sidewalks and other surfaces can be dangerously hot and cause burns, said Jackson. “Shelters and service agencies rely on donations of water so they have a supply to share with clients, but more is always needed. Heat-related deaths usually stem from lack of hydration and places to keep body temperatures cool.”

Phoenix Convention Center staff will be doing ongoing cleanings of the area and facilities being used for the respite to ensure the safety of both the residents and City staff. Each night when the respite area is closed down, a deep cleaning of the facilities will occur ensuring CDC guidelines are being met to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, several community partners are continuing outreach and support  to those living on the streets during this hot period.

The Salvation Army has opened 12 heat relief stations across metro Phoenix. St. Vincent de Paul, housed at the Human Services Campus, will open their doors during the heat of the day to clients of the campus. Their heat relief center will allow vaccinated pets. Finally, the Justa Center for senior citizens who are homeless, also located near the Human Services Campus, will operate an air-conditioned tent respite and hydration center during the hot days in the parking lot of their facility for their clients. ​

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