HUE and the City of Tempe unveiled a new project that will not only serve as a place of shelter from the brutal summer heat in the Valley of the Sun, but offer a place for the unhoused community to connect to resources. The mobile cooling trailer was made possible through the generous donation of local philanthropists, Jenny Norton and Bob Ramsey, and will be staffed by the city’s Homeless Outreach Prevention Effort (HOPE) team.
“Arizona’s summer heat can be deadly and those living outdoors need access to places where they can cool off and get a cold bottle of water,” said Mayor Corey Woods. “We are grateful for our longtime partnerships with Jenny Norton and Bob Ramsey and Arizona State University, and for a shared desire to serve individuals in need during the most difficult and dangerous months of the year.”
The 20-foot trailer started as a regular camper, and with help from students with the ASU Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program and HUE, was transformed into an environmentally friendly and sustainable space. Outfitted with solar panels from a local solar company, the trailer uses the renewable power of the sun to run much of its services.
“It was a high priority for us to reach out to the unhoused individuals where they live, and to create a mobile cooling center that provides heat relief but doesn’t contribute to poor air quality. Using solar power was an alternative to a dirty diesel generator,” said Liza Oz-Golden, program manager of HUE. “As a result, Jenny’s Trailer provides a healthy environment, and we hope it will help improve their quality of life.”
As the hottest days of summer wind down, the City of Tempe hopes to continue utilizing the trailer as a means of bringing access and information about resources to the unhoused community directly.
“The intention is for this trailer to be available to the community 365 days a year,” said Paul Bentley, Tempe’s deputy human services director in an interview with KJZZ. “We will be providing services from this trailer throughout the year.”
Bentley explains that Jenny’s Trailer will be instrumental in helping the City of Tempe achieve its goal of ending homelessness by making it 1) rare, 2) brief, and 3) one time. Rare in that the number of individuals without housing is low, brief in that the time they are in these unstable conditions is short, and one time in that once they get off the streets, they never have to go back.
The ultimate goal is to have multiple trailers all over the city to serve as many members of the community as possible.