Posted by: Deborah Ingram, Assistant Administrator, Recovery Directorate
I wanted to share a unique grant program FEMA has outside of our traditional preparedness and disaster recovery programs – the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. FEMA is provided funding each year, by Congress, to support voluntary agencies that provide food, shelter and other essential services to help the hungry and homeless individuals and families across our nation. This year, FEMA is awarding more than $119 million, through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program grant, to supplement agencies that provide food, shelter, rent, mortgage and utility assistance programs.
These funds are distributed in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which established the program and called for the creation of an Emergency Food and Shelter Program National Board. This board is comprised of representatives from agencies that include the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Salvation Army, United Way Worldwide, and FEMA. By law, FEMA serves as the chair to the national board, and the board chooses a fiscal agent and secretariat to oversee the award and compliance processes to local jurisdictions and local recipient organizations. The national board has selected United Way Worldwide to serve as this fiscal agent.
Based on the annual award from FEMA, the national board qualifies jurisdictions for funding by using a formula that takes into account factors such as the current population, unemployment, and poverty levels. Jurisdictions that qualify for funds must establish a local board that is comprised of the same agencies represented on the national board, with the highest ranking local government official or designee replacing the FEMA representative, and include at least one representative for the homeless population (i.e., currently homeless person, formerly homeless person, former recipient of service or a homeless advocate). The local boards are vested with the responsibility to administer the Emergency Food and Shelter Program at the local level and to select which agencies, both non-profit and governmental, are to receive funds. Once selected, funds are directly disbursed to these agencies by the national board.
As I shared back in March, voluntary agencies are a vital part of a community’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. However, strong partnerships are essential, not only when a disaster strikes, but year round. The Emergency Food and Shelter Program fosters public-nonprofit cooperation and partnership at the national and local levels – throughout the year - in serving those in need, and FEMA is proud to be a partner in this endeavor.
I hope you’ll learn more about this unique grant program by checking out the lists of qualifying jurisdictions and their allocation amounts.