Women's Dorm-BW May09


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. Individuals are expected to save 70% of their income while staying in COTS shelter. Located on lower Church Street in downtown Burlington since 1983, the shelter is open 6:15 p.m. to 8 a.m., 365 days a year.

In 2014, 301 individuals stayed in emergency shelter. Shelter demand typically slows in warmer months, but these shelters have operated at full capacity since the summer of 2008.

For shelter bed availability, check in at 9 a.m. at the COTS Daystation: 95 North Avenue, Burlington. After 6 p.m., call the Waystation at 802-862-7776 or come in-person to 187 Church Street, Burlington.


COTS Daystation is located at  95 North Avenue, Burlington, VT. Its open seven days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm

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.

Our Daystation offers free showers and laundry facilities. Each day, we average 10 showers, and 4.5 loads of laundry.

The Daystation provides a free noontime meal each day. We are always looking for community members to help provide this critical service.  To learn more about how you can help the Daystation’s lunch program, contact our Community Outreach and Volunteer Specialist, Sian Leach: 864-7402 x 207 or


COTS is able to shelter fifteen families at a time between our two family shelters, which are the only Family Shelters in Chittenden County.  Both are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Families can stay for up to six months while they work with COTS staff to find affordable housing, employment, childcare, and healthcare. Families are also expected to save 40% of their income while staying at COTS.

Children raised with housing instability are often at the greatest risk of becoming homeless themselves. With that in mind, we take a long-term approach to homelessness prevention with our children’s programming in shelter. We aim to effectively intervene now to stabilize parents and children, help them build new skills, and stop homelessness from happening in the future.
Homelessness is not just a financial crisis but also an early education issue.

COTS has implemented additional support for children, including:

COTS’ Children’s Education Advocate enrolls children in family shelter in quality early learning, preschools, after-school, and summer camp enrichment programs. These relationships arranged in shelter continue after families move into permanent housing. We coordinate volunteer-based learning activities, including field trips, arts projects, and the COTS “book buddies” literacy initiative. We also work with the University of Vermont Early Education Enrichment program to provide academic support and partner with the Burlington School District on tutoring in shelter.

Our AmeriCorps Children’s Programming Specialist (Vermont Youth Development Corps) teaches children about nutrition and wellness. This year, we started Vermont’s first after-school snack program in a family shelter. The AmeriCorp member also promotes physical activity and healthy choices.

 In 2014, 78 families, including 127 children, stayed in emergency shelter.  Please note that our shelters are consistently full with a waiting list.

To inquire about shelter availability, please call the Main Street Family Shelter at 802-864-2651.

MainStreet Makeover

The Main St. Family Shelter playroom (pictured above) was renovated by the Champlain Valley Jr. League in 2007. The Jr. League also renovated the family room at the Firehouse Family Shelter in 2012.


The Firehouse Family Shelter is COTS first shelter designed specifically for families.  Serving families since 1988, it is a renovated fire station in Burlington’s Old North End. The Firehouse Family Shelter provides a temporary home for five families at a time.


The Main Street Family Shelter opened in November 2002 after a major capital campaign and renovation effort that took just eight months. This 200-year-old Victorian building was renovated into bright, dignified, temporary housing for up to 10 families — many with at least one employed parent.


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