Support the Stefanowicz Family's COTS Walk!
This year’s annual VIRTUAL COTS Walk takes place on Sunday, May 2nd. Our family has set a goal to raise $3,200 for critical services in Vermont: shelter, supported housing, and homelessness prevention.
It’s no secret that we live in a community with a significant affordable housing problem. This housing crunch can often become an emergency when it is compounded by a myriad of other social problems: poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, job loss, catastrophic illness, and sometimes just plain bad luck.
Each night, COTS provides shelter to 15 families and 36 individuals who are experiencing homelessness here in Chittenden County. These people often include our children’s classmates, our co-workers, family members, and others we likely know or just recognize from our community.
COTS has been a critical service in Burlington since 1982 when a group of volunteers opened their doors on Christmas Eve to a small group of men, mostly veterans, who needed somewhere to sleep for the night. While the staff at COTS have always strived to work themselves out of a job, the issue of homelessness, like anything else, has only gotten more complicated over the years. Soon, COTS began seeing not just single men experiencing homelessness, but also women, children, and their families.
In 2018, 56 families, including 85 children, stayed at a COTS Family Shelter.
While we know that shelter and support are necessary for those who are experiencing acute homelessness, it is not a systemic solution. In 2008, in response to the Great Recession, COTS launched its homelessness prevention program.
Since the launch of the program in 2008, the COTS Housing Resource Center has helped 4,274 households avoid eviction or foreclosure and avert the crisis of homelessness entirely. This represents 9,819 individuals, 4,102 of whom are children (cotsonline.org).
Homelessness prevention is a cost-effective and humane approach to ending homelessness in our community. Every year there are families who qualify for this type of assistance and the funds are not available. $1,000 is enough to keep a family or individual in their housing and avoid the trauma of ever becoming homeless – this is remarkable compared to a 6-month shelter stay that could cost $10,000 or more, not to mention the emotional and financial cost of displacing a family from their home.
Please join me by making a gift today to support the good work that is happening at COTS and ensure that help is available to our neighbors who need it most.
The Stefanowicz Family
Nicole, Mike, Patrick, Calliope, and Waffle-the-Dog :)
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