Client Successes Make Our Community Stronger

In the last edition of the COTS Collective, I thanked Chuck Fernandez for his exceptional work leading this organization, and introduced myself as the new CEO. This month, I would like to take an opportunity to highlight a notable client story published in February.

This piece is an exceptional illustration of COTS’ work in the community—providing hope, healing, and support to our most vulnerable community members. While Bradley Brown’s story demonstrates what is possible through community supports and nonprofits like COTS, Brown’s experience with homelessness and the work required to regain self-sufficiency also highlights the complex systems and supports necessary to achieve long-term, positive outcomes.

In the last issue, I wrote about the importance of partnership in addressing homelessness. Brown’s story illustrates this clearly—without partnerships between the City, County, COTS, other nonprofit providers, law enforcement, Brown’s story could have ended much differently. These ongoing partnerships are critical in addressing homelessness now and into the future.

At COTS, we understand that supporting someone on their journey from homelessness to housing can be difficult and long. We also understand that people experiencing homelessness are members of our community—when our clients succeed, our community succeeds.

We are energized by Bradley’s success, and by the success of many other COTS clients just like Bradley Brown. I hope that after reading his story, you are too. Your questions, comments, and suggestions are always welcome here. Thank you for your support.

Until next time,

Chris Cabral

Mission Moment: Improving the Housing-Focused Model

Over the last several months, COTS has implemented a housing-focused model at the Mary Isaak Center shelter. Our goal is to improve self-sufficiency for our clients—with a primary focus on successful placement into long-term, permanent housing.

Staff work one-on-one with clients to create individualized plans, ensuring various barriers facing each client are addressed in unique ways. In the last thirty days, COTS has refreshed its policies related to client enrollment in our shelter, aiming to improve each client’s ability to successfully gain permanent housing while working with COTS.

What does this mean?

Through feedback from people with lived experience and observations of other successful models in the Bay Area, COTS determined that monthly client assessments are an effective way to improve client engagement and increase the effectiveness of our programs.

Each month, Care Managers will work one-on-one with each client to assess progress towards their housing goals over the previous 28 days. We recognize that progress comes in many forms and is rarely achieved in a linear way—each person’s journey from homelessness to housing is unique. For some, progress means applying to jobs, seeing a doctor, or applying for an apartment. For others, progress means improving personal hygiene habits, learning new life skills, or reconnecting with family. COTS is here to support each individual client in their journey to self-sufficiency.

Through monthly assessments, Care Managers and care teams can determine whether a client needs additional services and supports, or whether we may need to alter our approach to better engage a client in setting personal goals and reaching milestones. Think of this process as reviewing a strategic plan—without consistent review and a willingness to pivot, strategy can fail.

Monthly assessments also allow our clients to set both short and long-term goals. Achieving one or more short-term goals each month often provides the motivation necessary for a client to continue their pathway to permanent housing. Celebrating the achievement of short-term goals also creates a bonding moment for clients and Care Managers—a client’s success is a COTS success.

As always, thank you to our advocates, our supporters, and our community for your support of our critical work.


Chris Cabral, CEO