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Phoenix's only day center for homeless seniors sees toll of extreme heat

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Tuesday, July 25, 2023 - 8:05am

Painting of "Justa Center Expect Miracles"
Steve Carr/The Kur Carr Group, Inc
Justa Center

Phoenix is under an excessive heat warning, this time through Wednesday, July 26, when temperatures are expected to hit 118. For older Arizonans experiencing homelessness, finding a place to cool off can be a matter of life or death. So, where are they going? 

Growing older in this extreme heat is tough. For homeless seniors, it can be deadly, and there are not enough resources for this population. 

"We've seen about a 20% to 25% increase in members coming in each day," said Dean Scheinert, the executive director of Justa Center, the only day center in Phoenix that provides year-round services and support to unhoused people ages 55 or older.

Justa Center isn't open overnight, so the people who use its services come in from shelters, transitional housing or off the streets.

"And that's the worst part, trying to sleep outdoors when it's 90 degrees. So, we see members come in with sleep deprivation," he said.

They’re also coming in with signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, even heat stroke, he said.

For Scheinert, the goal is to give seniors a safe place to cool off, eat a meal and maybe take a shower.

Arizona Department of Health Services

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