A Home for Everyone

Ashley, 23, slept on the COSAC Homeless Shelter floor with her two daughters, one 3 and one 4-years-old, and they were grateful.
After being turned away by another shelter which said it had no room for her family, Ashley was surprised that she and her daughters were welcomed into COSAC. Instead of spending the night on the street, Ashley and her children got a hot meal and a place to sleep.
“We slept in the hallway; they put mats on the floor,” Ashley explained. “We didn’t have nowhere else to go.”
Ashley and her daughters are one of two families staying in COSAC. The COSAC staff shut off a section of the main hallway for the families to sleep in for the night.
While privacy is limited within the shelter, the COSAC staff does what it can to ensure the safety of children.
It is difficult to believe a family would be turned away from a homeless shelter, but the potential dangers of the shelter leave staff hesitant to take in anyone with children. COSAC takes a different approach by offering shelter and helping them move out as quickly as possible.
“We really do whatever it takes to get them off the streets,” said Sean Cononie, founder and director of COSAC. “Our policy has always been expand, expand, expand; we aren’t going to turn a family away.”
The COSAC Foundation has helped support and house 221 families since its establishment in May 1997.
While having a roof over children’s heads at night is a relief, a homeless shelter is far from ‘kid-friendly.’
COSAC takes in the homeless who seek assistance, including the ill and violent, whether or not children live in the facility.
Currently COSAC is not housing any registered sex offenders, but if it were to take one in, the parents of children would be notified immediately. If they decided to stay, the staff at COSAC would photograph the offender and give a copy of the photo to the parents.
The violent and mentally ill residents of COSAC are housed on the second floor in a private room.
People with children are set up in the nearby art gallery or in closed-off hallways. Although families are separated from potentially hostile residents at night, those residents are free to roam the facility during the day. The COSAC staff does what it can to prevent violence within the shelter, but some is inevitable. It is impossible to monitor every resident all the time.
Deltrecia, 19, spent her first night in COSAC sleeping on the floor with her three children, who range from 3 months to 2-years-old. When asked about the dangers of living in a homeless shelter with children, she explained that she does not want to stay at COSAC too long.
“It’s not a good place for my kids,” said Deltrecia, who was recently kicked out of her grandmother’s house. “But we don’t got nowhere else to go right now.”