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After record summer heat, Phoenix considers overnight cooling centers

By Christina Estes
Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2023 - 7:53am

Heat relief network
Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
Burton Barr Library in Phoenix is among the cooling centers for the Maricopa Association of Governments' Heat Relief Network.

After a summer with record high temperatures during both day and night, Phoenix is working on expanding hours for cooling centers.

The majority of Maricopa County’s heat-related deaths take place in Phoenix. The Arizona Republic recently reported the number of heat-classified deaths this year across the county is nearly 600.

“We obviously have more work to do in this area,” Mayor Kate Gallego said during Tuesday’s council meeting.

She asked staff what’s being done to offer heat relief overnight. Rachel Milne, director of the city’s office of homeless solutions, said they’re working to identify three cooling centers.

“We’re planning for a north, a central and a south location where we would have additional overnight beds for people in need that might not be accessing our shelter service system,” she said.

Last summer, the only Phoenix location offering overnight heat relief was the welcome center at the human services campus near downtown, but it did not provide beds.                      

“As we identify sites that we not only want to keep open during the day but at night as well, the plan is to reach out to our nonprofit providers and find one that does want to work with us on those sites this summer as well,” Milne said.

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