PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced that federal funds totaling $2,072,238 have been awarded to Maryland to help prevent homelessness, and feed and shelter the nation's hungry and homeless.
FEMA Director David Paulison said the funding was made available by Congress for the National Board of the Emergency Food and Shelter (EFS) Program to support social service agencies in more than 2,500 cities and counties across the country. EFS grant funds are used to supplement food, shelter, rent, mortgage and utility assistance programs for people with non-disaster related emergencies.
The EFS Program, entering its twenty-fifth year, is administered by a National Board of voluntary agencies chaired by FEMA. Member agencies of the National Board include American Red Cross; Catholic Charities, USA; National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.; The Salvation Army; United Jewish Communities; and United Way of America.
"The ongoing success of the EFS program is a testament to the compassion of the American people and the dedication of their government to listen to their call to action," Paulison said. "This far-reaching program would never be possible without the service provided by those working throughout our nations communities."
EFS funds were first authorized by Congress in 1983 and are currently appropriated annually under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The EFS program provides these supplemental funds to nearly 12,000 agencies for the prevention of homelessness and the provision of other food and shelter services. Paulison noted that with the 2007 allocation, more than $2.9 billion in federal aid has been disbursed through the EFS Program since its inception.
This successful public - private partnership allows money to quickly get into the hands of agencies providing services to the most vulnerable among us, said Robyn Judelsohn of United Jewish Communities (UJC), and a national board member.
The national board qualifies jurisdictions for annual EFS funding awards based on criteria involving current population, unemployment and poverty levels. Grants are awarded to non-profit community and government organizations that are chosen by local boards in the qualifying jurisdictions. In addition to direct funding awards, Paulison said 8 percent of this year's total EFS appropriation has been set aside by the national board for state grants to aid the needy in non-qualifying jurisdictions.
The current allocated funds are estimated to provide more than 35 million meals and 1.3 million nights of lodging. The monies will also be used to provide 98,719 rent and mortgage payments, and 231,929 utility bills to those in the most desperate need of assistance.
A state-by-state list of the eligible jurisdictions and award amounts is available at http://www.efsp.unitedway.org/ .
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.