COTS provides emergency shelter, services, and housing for people who are homeless or marginally housed housed in Vermont.
This is a 36-bed shelter for men and women, ages 18 and older, who have no other place to sleep at night except for the streets. Located on lower Church Street in downtown Burlington, the shelter is open 6:15 p.m. to 8 a.m., 365 days a year.
This daytime drop-in shelter is open 365 days a year seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It offers a refuge from the streets and access to an array of services and medical care. This is where individuals can meet with COTS staff and connect with local resources, receive mail and telephone calls, and find support toward their goal of self-sufficiency. Daystation staff provide support, assistance and referrals, as well as educational and recreational opportunities whenever possible.
In 2011, 825 different individuals — an average of 53 people a day — used the Daystation, the only drop-in center for homeless adults in Chittenden County. With the help of volunteers, a noontime meal was served every day.
The first shelter COTS created specifically for families with children, the Firehouse opened in 1988. It is located in Burlington’s Old North End and can accommodate five families at a time.
Opened in November 2002 after a major capital campaign and renovation effort that took just eight months, this facility provides shelter for up to 10 families. All COTS family shelters are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In 2011, 107 families stayed at either the Main Street, Firehouse, or Champlain Family Shelter, including 115 parents and 122 children.
In 2004, COTS began offering a limited Homelessness Prevention Fund that provided emergency, one-time grants to prevent people from losing their housing. As the need grew, the program evolved to keep up with the demand.
This effort led to the creation in 2008 of the COTS Housing Resource Center (HRC) — a “one stop shop” for people seeking affordable housing and rental assistance. Low-income households often end up in emergency shelter due to an unforeseen event beyond their control, such as a job loss, unexpected medical bills or a major car repair.
HRC staff identify individuals and families in financial trouble and link them with resources and support before they are evicted or face foreclosure action. They also maintain an ongoing list of housing available for rent and work with a network of more than 50 landlords who rent to COTS clients.
In 2010, COTS helped 450 low-income households experiencing financial crisis avert homelessness and stay in their housing. The Housing Resource Center also helped 278households move into housing by administering security deposits that otherwise would have taken months for struggling families to save. In 2011, COTS helped 300 households avert homelesssness and 182 households received security deposit grants and loans to move more quickly into permanent housing.
In its first three years of operation, the COTS prevention program assisted 1,507 households with homeless prevention and security deposit grants and loans. This represents 2,800 people, including 1,167 children. Of these households helped, 816 were families -- 98 percent of those families retained their housing.
The COTS Housing Resource Center has worked with more than 200 landlords in the community while helping homeless households transition to permanent housing through security deposit grants and loans.
Of those served through the HRC, the primary reason for needing assistance: 45 percent because of job loss or reduction in hours; another 16 percent requested help because of illness.
In 2011, COTS provided outreach and support services to 228 homeless families in both emergency shelter and in the community. In addition, 191 single, homeless adults received services from COTS case management staff.