Community Partner Highlight: Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS)

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Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) is Vermont’s largest service provider to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They are a nationally recognized nonprofit that provides emergency shelter, services, housing and prevention outreach, serving more than 2,000 people annually, including families and children.  The organization formed in 1982 when a group of concerned community members and organizations first came together to address the needs of the growing homeless population in Burlington. The number of homeless families served by COTS increased 400% between 1995 and 2000—from 73 families to 300 families – and has continued to increase each year.

COTS runs a waystation that can house 36 men and women who have nowhere else to spend the night, as well as two family shelters that house a total of 15 families.  Additionally, COTS operates a daystation 365 days a year where individuals can receive a free lunch, medical services, and assistance.  In 2012, 221 individuals stayed in a COTS emergency shelter. Shelter demand typically slows in warmer months, but these shelters have operated at full capacity since the summer of 2008.  Also in 2012, 117 families, including 154 adults and 182 children, stayed in a COTS family emergency shelter, and 926 different individuals — an average of 48 people a day — used the Daystation, the only daytime shelter for homeless adults in Chittenden County.