At COTS, our mission is to assist those experiencing homelessness in finding and keeping housing, increasing self-sufficiency, and improving well-being. We envision a community where everyone has a place to call home.

According to the 2019 Point in Time Count, there are some 3,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in Sonoma County and 21,000 considered precariously housed. For 32 years, COTS has been working to combat this crisis, providing hot and nutritious meals daily to anyone in need and a range of services to support people in reaching their short- and long-term housing, healthcare and employment goals. Our programs and services are rooted in a deep understanding of the experience of homelessness – and are shaped by an evidence-based approach that emphasizes dignity, care and inclusivity for our clients.

We currently support approximately 190 people in shelter and nearly 700 across a range of housing programs. 

Housing First, A New Model

The Mission at COTS is to assist people to transition from homelessness to a permanent home. But we a know that homelessness can also be accompanied by other needs and challenges, including employment or medical, mental health and substance abuse issues. In the past, COTS offered shelter and housing programs to clients who were actively achieving sobriety. With the passage of a new law and the adoption of a “Housing First” model, COTS is able to welcome community members across a spectrum of recovery, health and mental health needs.

In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed the “Homeless Coordinating and Finance Council,” or SB 1380 into law, requiring that any organization that receives state funding to adopt a “housing first” model into their programs by July 1, 2019. The law is based on evidence that clients see a higher level of success at addressing all their health and employment needs if they are stably housed first. The program also significantly reduces costs associated with emergency room visits, hospital stays, and incarceration.

The shift to Housing First has opened our doors to community members who have been hesitant in the past to participate in services due to sobriety requirements or who struggle to effectively advocate for their needs. COTS is committed to finding what works best for our community, and we continue to adjust our practices to improve our impact.