Business & Economy

New homeless shelter opens in Burlington’s North End

Rita Markley, executive director of COTS, left, Gov. Phil Scott, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Nancy Owens, president of HousingVermont, cut the ribbon during opening festivities Monday at the new COTS building on 95 North Ave. in Burlington. Photo by Gail Callahan/VTDigger

BURLINGTON — The Committee on Temporary Shelter and Housing Vermont celebrated the reopening of the COTS building at 95 North Ave. on the heels of major renovations.

The ceremony Monday drew affordable housing advocates, officials from Housing Vermont and people who have supported COTS since the early 1980s. Rep. Peter Welch, Gov. Phil Scott and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger were also on hand for the ribbon-cutting.

COTS and Housing Vermont redeveloped the site. The project carried an $8.2 million price tag, and funding came from a variety of public and private sources.

The space features laundry facilities, showers and computers. A noontime meal is served year-round at the Daystation.

The redevelopment project broke ground in March 2016. The building was constructed in 1893 and was home to a general store before becoming Alex Colodny’s Supermarket for more than 50 years.

The previous permanent home for the Daystation is now home to a warming station. The 95 North Ave. site features 14 affordable apartments and space for programs, including the COTS Housing Resource Center, COTS’ family and single-adult services and the Daystation program.

Nancy Owens of Housing Vermont said that providing a helping hand to those who need it most guided the project. “Housing is at the root of protecting the most vulnerable citizens,” Owens said.

Gov. Phil Scott and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger echoed the call to help the homeless. “This is a remarkable achievement,” Weinberger said. “The ribbon cutting represents the hard work of many.”

COTS Executive Director Rita Markley said the new COTS building will give homeless people a place to rebuild their lives. “This is the place where homeless vets can come and have a shower. This is the place where the elderly can come and get out of the harsh weather and sit and have a cup of tea and not be asked to move along. It’s about forgiveness and second chances and this will be the place where those who come last every place else comes first.”

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., told the audience that proposed social service cuts by the Trump administration will have a negative impact on Vermont’s homeless population.

Welch called on Vermonters to work together, assisting the “least among us,” he said. “The differences between us are not obstacles to getting things done.”

Correction: The previous home for the Daystation was not destroyed in a flood, as stated in an earlier version of this story. It is now a warming station.

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  • Pete Novick

    I would have liked to have seen some of the people served by this good and decent initiative included in the picture as well. The message of grace and hope would be that much more authentic.

    “I firmly believe that our salvation depends on the poor.”
    – Dorothy Day


    • Neil Johnson

      Would have been nice to actually see pictures of the facility!

  • Dan DeCoteau

    Would be even nicer if they worked on solving the mental health and homelessness problems instead of building a place to house them, temporarily!

  • John Grady

    $8.2 million could buy 410 campers costing $20,000 each.

    Find 8 locations around the state end set up 50 campers at each with shore power and have a no frills community building for bathrooms & a chow hall. There is probably empty school buildings with parking lots available and plenty of other half empty schools that should have been closed years ago that could be used for camper parks. American’s are now living in Wal-Mart parking lots in cars, vans and campers so why not accept our society has FAILED millions of people and set up Hoovervilles for people to camp out in.

    The money spent on section 8 rent assistance, motel rooms, food stamps, heating assistance is massive. Besides camper parks dorm room style housing could be built with food service.