Summers in the Phoenix metro area are sweltering.
“By June, just about every day is going to be over 100 degrees,” says Agustin Gastelum of Rail CDC, a community development organization in Mesa, just east of Phoenix.
Many locals beat the heat by moving from one air-conditioned space to another. But for folks who walk to work or wait for the bus, the heat is unavoidable — especially in historically underserved neighborhoods, which are often the hottest.
“Very little tree cover, very little shade access, the bus stops don’t have shade coverings,” he says.
In one predominantly Latino area, his group led a series of workshops. Residents shared their experiences of heat and identified solutions that would help them.
He says a lot of the things that came up in the conversations were really basic — for example, building shade structures at bus stops, installing sprinklers where kids can cool off, and providing access to drinking water along busy walking routes.
But though the solutions may seem simple, Gastelum says it’s been a challenge to fund and implement them.
So as the climate warms and the city gets even hotter, there’s a long way to go to protect those who are the most vulnerable.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media