Melvin spent 30 years homeless, mostly avoiding shelters because of violence he’d witnessed in them. When he came to Petaluma in 2013, people told him about COTS, and he gave shelter another try.

While here, he felt safe, and he worked with COTS Benefits Advocate Barbara Pieper on a disability claim. Sadly, that application was unsuccessful. So, he unrolled his sleeping bag and started camping again. But Barbara saw him downtown one day and asked him to try again. He worked with Barbara on an appeal—this time, successfully.

He’s now in our Permanent Supportive Housing program, a program for adults with disabilities. He’s safe and secure, and he has the help of Kathleen Sinnott, a COTS Case Manager, who meets with him every week, helping him stay organized in his financial life, his home life and his social life. Melvin spends his free time at the Senior Center and the library, with frequent trips to Santa Rosa for errands.

Melvin’s advice: “Volunteering at COTS, being involved, helped me stay busy and feel better.”