As COTS turned 30 years old in 2018, COTS leadership committed to a vision to end homelessness in Sonoma County, and focused our mission to assist people to transition from homelessness to a permanent home.

Founded in 1988, COTS was an expression of two local residents’ concern for children and adults who were sleeping outdoors in culverts, dumpsters or other unsafe and unsuitable conditions. Laure Reichek and Mary Isaak raised money from private donors, enlisted the support of the faith community and fraternal organizations, educated the larger community, and monitored sleepovers at temporary shelters throughout the city.

Between the years of 1988 and 2004, COTS operated a winter-only shelter for single adults in multiple locations: first a bookstore basement, then in local churches, swim center, and later at an armory. COTS also operated a drop-in center located next to a community kitchen that dispensed free meals. Families were served with temporary shelter at an isolated building on the south side of town.

Thousands of homeless adults, families, and children were kept warm, safe, clean, and fed. However, these programs were less successful at helping people to regain housing. Many people continued to live on the streets or cycle in and out of the shelter system.

Today, COTS focuses exclusively on the issue of homelessness strictly in terms of assisting people to regain their housing. We believe that not having a home causes homelessness, and we work diligently to assist our clients to regain housing and their dignity. Read more about COTS vision for the future.

1988 – 1990

COTS is founded

Armory Winter Shelter opens

Family Shelter opens on Petaluma Boulevard South

1993 – 1995

Children’s Haven opens

Shared Housing Program acquired from Innovative Housing

1998 – 2004

Armory shelter closes, moves to Petaluma Swim Center

Elwood Opportunity Center opens for daytime drop-in services

Rent Right program begins

The Family Connection merges with COTS

Petaluma Kitchen merges with COTS

Mary Isaak Center opens

2005 – 2008

First Integrity House opens 

ACES research incorporated into COTS programs

Sun Magazine Article brings national attention

Vida Nueva opens

2010 – 2012

Family Shelter closes

Veterans Permanent Housing program begins

2013 – 2016

Petaluma Kitchen moves from Payran Street to the Mary Isaak Center

Kids First Family Shelter opens