Canal Street Veterans Housing

Canal Street Veterans Housing is an innovative approach to veterans’ assistance that COTS hopes will serve as a national example – creating housing, not shelter, for formerly homeless veterans. The program provides veterans with time to transition back into the community, allowing participants to stay up to 24 months.

“Veterans have sacrificed so much for this country, and we are so proud to have this beautiful new building to let them know how much we appreciate their service,” said Rita Markley, COTS executive director. “Canal Street demonstrates that Vermont knows how to treat our veterans  when they return home, offering them safe and decent housing.”

The program creates housing for male and female veterans, as well as their families.

The project is the result of the vision of one formerly homeless veteran, a passionate nonprofit – and $1.2 million seed grant from the Veterans Administration. During the height of U.S.military involvement in Iraqand Afghanistan, a Vietnam veteran named Marty Martinez, who had once been homeless himself, asked to meet with Rita. He had a simple question for her: What was COTS going to do to be proactive instead of reactive to a new generation of veterans who would soon be returning to Vermont? How, he asked, would COTS make sure what had happened to so many Vietnam veterans did not happen to another former soldier who had served his or her country? How could we ensure that those who returned would truly come home?

The answer began when COTS applied to the VA for a capital grant to build transitional housing for formerly homeless veterans. The VA responded with $1.2 million; COTS was on its way.

COTS partnered with Housing Vermont on the 5.8 million project, which broke ground in October 2009. Canal Street was constructed with collaborative sources of funding, a mix of private and public support.

“This is a remarkable example of a coordinated, thoughtful response to providing services and housing to veterans,” said Housing Vermont President Nancy Owens. “We welcomed the opportunity to combine our real estate development skills with the program experience of COTS.”


  • 16 units of transitional housing, includes efficiencies and 2-bedroom apartments;
  • 12 units of permanent housing;
  • All apartments have their own kitchen and private bathroom;
  • Shared common area includes large kitchen and living room/meeting space;
  • Veterans are required to participate in training, education, and/or employment programming;
  • Veterans are linked to services at the VA Outpatient Clinic;
  • The program will include a 24-hour resident manager; the program is drug and alcohol free;
  • A full-time COTS case manager will work with veterans on site.


Naming opportunities for sponsoring a room are available:

  • 12 studio apartments can be named for $5,000 each
  • 4 two-bedroom apartments can be named for $10,000 each
  • Also, COTS welcomes individual donations earmarked for the project for a new facility that will provide much-needed housing and support services for homeless veterans.


P.O. Box 1616
Burlington, VT 05402

Questions? Contact Becky Holt, COTS development director, at or (802) 540-3084, Ext. 204.

Canal Street Veterans Housing Photos:

Media coverage: