Beyond Extreme: Heat Emergency and Water Insecurity for People Experiencing Houselessness in Phoenix, Arizona, USA During and After the Heatwave of 2023

Margaret V. du Bray, Rhian Stotts, Richard Southee, Amber Wutich

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The U.S. National Weather Service issues extreme heat warnings at 105 °F. The desert city of Phoenix, AZ, in the Southwest USA, regularly exceeds temperatures of 105° between May and September. Yet, there is no word beyond “extreme” to describe these temperatures. Many residents of Metro Phoenix (including 24 municipalities and 5 + million people) have adapted to extreme heat by managing indoor temperatures using air conditioning, including low-cost and energy-efficient water-based evaporative (“swamp”) coolers. The City of Phoenix implemented its first Heat Response Plan in 2022. However, record-breaking heat in 2023 disrupted long-standing heat and water management adaptations, and exacerbated existing heat vulnerabilities and water insecurities with disproportionate negative impacts on the growing population of people experiencing houselessness in Metro Phoenix. Beginning in late June, Phoenix experienced a record 31 consecutive days of temperatures over 110°. The average high in July was 114.7° and the average low was 90.8°. We build upon and update the findings of our earlier study of the experiences of unsheltered individuals and communities in Phoenix between 2013 and 2016 (Palta et al., 2016).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-808
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Ecology
Volume51
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Anthropology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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