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As the extreme summer heat continues in Phoenix, homeless seniors are seeking respite

As the extreme summer heat continues in Phoenix, the area’s homeless seniors are seeking respite from the potentially deadly weather. 

For the last couple of years, there’s been an increase in the number of homeless older Arizonans. 

"From 2021 to 2022, CASS saw a 43% increase in the number of aging adults 55 And older that we served," said Lisa Glow, CEO of the Central Arizona Service Shelters, or CASS, the state’s largest emergency homeless shelter. And with the extreme heat, more homeless seniors are seeking refuge at CASS.

"We're seeing a lot of seniors as we have been for the last many years, who are newly homeless, or have been homeless for some time and they're coming to shelter. They are heat exhausted," she explained.

And they’re getting older. 

"We have a lot of people in their 80s and their 70s." There are even clients in their 90s. 

Which is cause for concern, says Glow. CASS is currently in the process of renovating a hotel that will eventually become a 170-bed shelter for seniors. KAT

And this population is especially vulnerable to these extreme temperatures. 

"Last year in Maricopa county, the county heat death report indicated there were 425 heat related deaths of those two thirds were people 50 and older. Of those 58% happened in the month of July. It was a hot July last year. It's hotter this year," Glow said. 

CASS is currently at and sometimes over capacity. The shelter is also  in the process of renovating a hotel that will eventually become a 170-bed senior-living-style shelter.

Senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.