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 2012, 221 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 9am at the COTS Daystation: 113 Elmwood Ave., Burlington. After 6 p.m., call the Waystation at 862-7776 or come in-person to 187 Church Street, Burlington.


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.

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 Gillian: 864-7402 x 207 or

COTS lost its Daystation facility in a severe rainstorm on July 4, 2012. The program has been relocated to the 113 Elmwood Avenue, Burlington.  Please note that there will no longer be any COTS services at 179 South Winooski Ave. or at 25 Buell St.

In 2012, 926 different individuals — an average of 48 people a day — used the Daystation, the only daytime shelter for homeless adults in Chittenden County.


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.  With the support of trained staff , our Childhood Education Advocate our VYDC AmeriCorps Family Programming Specialist, COTS works with children and parents in the shelter to ensure success in school, promote children’s healthy social, emotional and physical development, and strengthen family relationships.  Volunteers provide evening respite care in our playroom, planning activities, help with homework and read stories with kids.

 In 2012, 117 families, including 154 adults and 182 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 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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