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Out of over 200 cooling centers, hydration stations and respite centers, only 2 are open 24/7

Phoenix broke an all-time record Wednesday morning for a warm low of 97 degrees. But when the sun isn’t out, it still means little relief for the city’s unsheltered population.

Out of over 200 individual locations, only one cooling center and one hydration station are open 24/7. That’s according to the Maricopa Association of Governments.

Although cooling stations dot the Valley, most shut down between 4 and 7 p.m.  The hottest time of day falls in that window, between 2 and 5 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

When the sun goes down and the intense heat lingers, Phoenix’s homeless population has almost nowhere to go. And with no overnight relief, this population is at increased risk of heat-related injury and death.

According to a recent count by the Human Services Campus, which spans 13 acres near downtown Phoenix, nearly 900 people were on the street in the city’s largest homeless encampment this week.

Temperatures are expected to remain above 110 through Friday.

In a statement, the City of Phoenix said it “reviews opportunities to expand its participation in the Heat Relief Network each year based on available capacity and staffing.”

Phoenix “participates in regional work groups aimed at improving heat relief network services,” but only operates cooling centers located at city libraries.

The city also offers the Heat Relief Grant program. It’s meant to enhance services offered by nonprofit organizations and non-city partners, including funding to extend their hours, but applications closed last week.

Maricopa County, which provides funding for multiple cooling centers across the Valley, doesn’t operate any of its own.

A county spokesperson said in a statement that while it “has been aggressively funding shelter beds, affordable housing, and heat-relief centers in areas identified by cities and non-profit partners,” no single government entity is “in charge of heat-relief or homelessness.”

The two centers that are open 24/7 are: 

  • The Human Services Campus - Welcome Center and Resource Center at 206 S. 12th Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85007
  • Dream City Church - Phoenix Dream Center at 3210 N. Grand Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85017
Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.