Glossary of Terms

COTS Specific Terms

Daystation: This is a daytime drop-in shelter, which is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 365 days a year. A noontime meal is served daily. The program offers refuge from the streets during the day and access to an array of services and medical care. It has recently been temporarily relocated to 25 Buell Street in Burlington, VT.

The Waystation: A 36-bed overnight COTS emergency shelter for men and women, age 18 and older, who have no other place to sleep at night but the streets. Located on lower Church Street in downtown Burlington, VT, this program opened in 1983. The Waystation is open and staffed 6 p.m. – 8 a.m., 365 days a year.

Firehouse Family Shelter: The first COTS shelter designed specifically for families is located in Burlington’s Old North End, and has been serving families since 1988. This shelter provides temporary shelter for up to five families at a time. This program is open and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Main Street Family Shelter: Opened in November of 2002, this COTS shelter temporarily houses up to 10 families, many with at least one employed parent. It is located on Main Street in Burlington, VT. This program is open and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Canal Street Veterans Housing: This multi-story facility provides housing, not shelter, for formerly homeless veterans, both male and female. In order to help veterans transition back into the community, they can stay up to 24 months. In total, it provides 16 units of transitional housing, and 12 units of permanent housing, all of which include their own private bathroom and kitchen. Opened in February of 2011, the building is located on Canal Street in Winooski, VT.

The Smith House: Opened in the spring of 2002, the Smith House provides low-cost housing for up to 7 individuals who are transitioning from shelter and working with staff to overcome complex financial, health and/or substance abuse issues. The Smith House also includes two permanent apartments for families, made affordable with Burlington Housing Authority Section 8 vouchers.

St. John’s Hall: This is a COTS facility that offers permanent housing to people who were formerly homeless. Opened in 1991, St. John’s Hall provides 18 single-room occupancy (SRO) units and 3 apartments, subsidized by the Vermont Housing Authority.

The Wilson: Purchased by COTS in 1984, this former hotel provides 22 single-room occupancy (SRO) units for people who are living independently and share a common kitchen. The Wilson is permanent, low-cost housing for individuals who were formerly homeless.

COTS Housing Resource Center (HRC): A homelessness prevention initiative launched by COTS in 2008 to help families and individuals in crisis avoid homelessness entirely. The program is designed to help prevent at-risk households form losing their existing housing due to unforeseen circumstances and to allow those who are without permanent shelter to move more rapidly into stable housing.

COMPASS (COMPrehensive Assistance toward Self Sufficiency): This is a program for households that are able financially able to pay rent, but have a damaged rental or credit history that creates a major obstacle to housing. COTS staff works with them on their credit and other issues. COTS also provides financial backing; the COTS risk guarantee pool ensures that if a landlord does have expenses (such an eviction or extreme damage), COTS will cover costs to an agreed upon limit. After one to two years of success, households enter a standard landlord-tenant agreement, and the funds are released to help another household in need.

Family Supportive Housing Demonstration (“Home Again”): This is a transitional housing program for families. Families move into apartments master-leased by COTS, allowing families to immediately begin restoring their housing credit and landlord references. COTS has collaborated with Howard Center, which brings its clinical expertise and family-based therapeutic services to households in a supportive whole-family approach. COTS works with the families on lease agreements, assists with credit repair, and helps them regain financial stability. COTS has partnered with Champlain Housing Trust and private landlords to master-lease apartments for the program. Also, included in this initiative is a “Pay It Forward Fund,” a creative “self-subsidy” approach to help families during the second year of housing. During the first year, families will pay a program fee of $150 to COTS in lieu of rent. These fees will be deposited into the Pay It Forward Fund and then matched 2:1. This will allow households to accumulate $5,400, which will serve as a subsidy in their second year of housing. In year two, families will pay $450 rent per month. The remaining amount of the $900 rent will be matched by the Pay It Forward Fund.  By year three, families will transition into independent housing.

General Terms

Homeless: This definition was established in the Homeless Definition final rule, and published in the Federal Register on December 5, 2011. It provides four possible categories under which individuals and families may qualify as homeless:

  1. Individuals and families who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and includes a subset for an individual who resided in an emergency shelter or a place not meant for human habitation and who is exiting an institution where he or she temporarily resided;
  2. Individuals and families who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence
  3. Unaccompanied youth and families with children and youth who are defined as homeless under other federal statutes who do not otherwise qualify as homeless under this definition;
  4. Individuals and families who are fleeing, or are attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions that relate to violence against the individual or a family member.

Point in time count: The Vermont Statewide Point-in-Time (PIT) Count is an unduplicated count of persons experiencing homelessness in both unsheltered and sheltered (in a homeless program) places on a single night. The Vermont Balance of State Continuum of Care (CoC) and The Chittenden County Continuum of Care join efforts to conduct the count.

Section 8 vouchers: Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937, often simply known as Section 8, authorizes the payment of rental housing assistance to private landlords on the behalf of about 3.1 million low-income households nationwide.

    • The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides “tenant-based” rental assistance, so a tenant can move from one unit of at least minimum quality housing to another. It also allows individuals to apply their monthly voucher toward the purchase of a home, with more than $17 billion going toward such purchases every year (from analysis). The maximum allowed voucher is $2,200 a month.
    • Section 8 also authorizes a variety of “project-based” rental assistance programs, under which the owner reserves some or all of the units of a building for low-income tenants, in return for a federal government guarantee to make up the difference between the tenant’s contribution and the rent specified in the owner’s contract with the government. A tenant who leaves a subsidized project will lose access to the project-based subsidy.

SNAP: The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, more commonly known as the food stamp program, provides financial assistance for purchasing food to low- and no-income people living in the United States. It is a federal aid program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, though the benefits are distributed by individual states. (In Vermont, the program is known as 3SqauresVT.) 

3SqauresVT: This is the name given to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program in Vermont.

Reach Up: This is the name that was given to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program in VT. See TANF for more details.

TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, more commonly known as welfare, is a federal assistance program, begun on July 1, 1997, and succeeded the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, providing cash assistance to indigent American families with dependent children through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (In Vermont the program is known as “Reach Up.”)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the result of the Second World War. At the War’s conclusion, the United Nations was formed, and the international community made a commitment to never again allow such atrocities to occur.

    • Article 25: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.