Social capital is defined as the “social relationships and ties that facilitate collective action in a community” (Green and Haines, 2012). The presence and quality of neighborhood organizations is a fairly good indication that a community has high social capital. One community based organization is called COTS, or the Committee on Temporary Shelter. COTS provides emergency shelter, services, and housing for people who are homeless or marginally housed in Vermont. COTS also advocates for long-term solutions to end homelessness. Lower economic status households have greater reliance on social ties for support. “The number of homeless families served by COTS increased 400% between 1995 and 2000—from 73 families to 300 families – and has continued to increase each year” (Committee on Temporary Shelter). The Committee on Temporary Shelter is a good example of linking capital.
Burlington also has high social capital because it hosts many events that allow its residents to interact frequently. One of these events is called the COTS Walk. The COTS Walk is a 3-mile trek around downtown Burlington starting from Battery Park, which follows the route that a homeless person might travel to receive shelter and services. About 2,000 walkers of all ages, from businesses, schools, social and religious organizations, and neighborhoods come together form all over the region to participate in the COTS Walk. Last year, I actually volunteered for the COTS Walk by helping to guide the walkers along the route. The COTS Walk raises public awareness about homelessness in the community. The COTS Walk also raises money to support COTS shelters and services for Vermonters who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes.
Committee on Temporary Shelter. (2016). Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://cotsonline.org/take-action/becoming-homeless/