ST. LOUIS – Many St. Louisans are struggling to escape the heat. The unhoused, in particular, are having a rough go of it in this heatwave.

Mary Harder says she’s unable to get into homeless shelters because of her constant companion.

“I have service animals. She’s fully-registered,” she said.

Harder says she’s on the street, trying her best to survive the heat with her dog.

“I have a cooler full of ice and water. Other than that, I’m staying in the shade,” she said.

On Monday, Harder and others who are unhoused received a helping hand from Affinia Healthcare.

Affinia went to 14 locations in north St. Louis, south St. Louis, and north St. Louis County, handing out water and other toiletries. They also provided bus passes so that people without transportation could get to shelters. They brought along their big medical van as well.

“We have nurses here just to help if anyone is experiencing heat exhaustion, and we would be able to help and assist them with that,” Dr. Kendra Holmes, Affinia president and CEO, said.

Holmes says the city and county could be doing more to assist the unhoused.

“I think there’s always an opportunity to do more, especially with the underserved. That has been my philosophy from day one,” she said. “More outreaches would be helpful; like, we’re here today before it gets very hot to get them into cooling shelters.”

One of those struggling in this heatwave is Jeffrey Bell. He’s 61 years old.

“Oh man, it’s just draining me. It’s hot!” he said. “Water is the best thing I can think of when it’s this hot. Get somewhere in the shade and just sit.”

Holmes says people like Bell represent a disturbing trend.

“As you can see, the face of the unhoused is really changing. Unhoused people, it used to be young. This is an older group that have more cardiovascular issues, more health issues, and more concern to get them out of the heat.”

Affinia says they’ll be out on the street in full force as long as this heatwave lasts.