Shelter may be the most obvious type of support COTS provides to families and individuals, but it certainly is not the only type. For example, our clients are required to save a percentage of their income each month (40 percent for families; 70 percent for individuals). This goal helps prepare them for a move into permanent housing within four to six months of their arrival in shelter.
COTS case managers work with families and individuals living in the community as well as in shelter – setting goals, helping them negotiate the complex welfare system, connecting them with affordable childcare resources, and much more.
In 2014, COTS provided outreach and support services to 181 homeless families in both emergency shelter and in the community. In addition, 206 single, homeless adults received services from COTS family services staff.
With the help of volunteers, COTS also provides clients with a number of opportunities for education and personal growth. These opportunities have included work force training programs, budgeting and financial management workshops, parenting classes, computer training, creative writing groups, women’s groups, individual tutoring, and cooking and grocery shopping classes.
From October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014, COTS provided the following services to families who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless:
- 78 families, including 127 children, stayed in a COTS family shelter. These shelters can host 15 families each night.
- 181 families, including those staying in emergency shelter or in overflow motels, received support from COTS staff.
- 204 households, including 179 children, experiencing financial crisis averted homelessness through the COTS Housing Resource Center.
- 223 households, including 201 children, received security deposit assistance through the COTS Housing Resource Center. This program shortens shelter stays and reduces the number of transitions children experience while their families find suitable and sustainable housing.
Since the launch of the program in 2008, the COTS Housing Resource Center has helped 2,995 households avoid eviction or foreclosure and avert the crisis of homelessness entirely. This represents 6,946 individuals, 2,910 of whom are children.
HOUSING RESOURCE CENTER
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 of the COTS Housing Resource Center (HRC) in 2008 — 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.
In its first year of operation, the HRC averted homelessness for 351 households through one-time grants to help with unanticipated expenses and prevent eligible households from facing eviction or foreclosure.
This COTS program primarily serves families and individuals earning at or below 50% HUD Area Median Income guidelines (or $38,350 for a family of four). Of those seeking assistance, 35 percent experienced a job loss or a cut in work hours, and another 17 percent requested help because of illness. In four years, COTS has helped hundreds of households avert homelessness, at a time when unprecedented numbers risked losing their housing. We haved helped 2,026 households (or 4,848 individuals, including 2,058 children):
- 1,264 households (including 1,322 children) with rental arrearage;
- 55 households (including 63 children) with mortgage arrearage;
- 685 households (including 653 children) with security deposit grants;
- 22 households (including 20 children) with security deposit loans
What this means: COTS helped 1,319 households avoid eviction or foreclosure and avert the crisis of homelessness entirely. We aided another 707 households with security deposit assistance, shortening shelter stays and reducing the number of transitions children experience while their families find suitable and sustainable 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.
COTS Launches New Initiatives in 2012
FAMILY SUPPORTIVE HOUSING
Family Supportive Housing, formally known as “Home Again,” is a transitional housing program for families. After a brief stay, families move into apartments leased by COTS, allowing families to immediately begin restoring their housing credit and landlord references. This solution reduces shelter stays for families and their children, in particular.
COMPASS (COMPrehensive Assistance toward Self Sufficiency) is a program for households that can pay rent but have a damaged rental or credit history that creates a major obstacle to finding housing. COTS staff work with them on their credit and other issues.
COTS also provides financial backing: The COTS risk guarantee pool ensures that if a landlord takes on extra expenses, COTS will cover costs to an agreed upon limit. If, however, after one to two years no problems arise, the resident will enter a standard landlord-tenant agreement. The funds then will be used to help another household in need.
Prevention support last year
Rental & Mortgage Arrearage
264 households, including 236 children, experiencing financial crisis averted homelessness and stayed in their home through HRC.
Security Deposit Grants & Loans
319 households, including 324 children, received security deposit assistance through HRC. This program shortens shelter stays and reduces the number of transitions children experience while their families find suitable and sustainable housing.