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Emergency Food and Shelter Program

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) is a FEMA-funded program authorized by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. The program supplements and expands ongoing work of local nonprofit and governmental social service organizations to provide shelter, food, and supportive services to individuals and families who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, hunger and/or homelessness. The program also provides supplemental funding for humanitarian relief efforts by social service organizations for the purposes of providing shelter and supportive services to families and individuals encountered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The EFSP National Board is the sole recipient of EFSP grant funds from FEMA and establishes the program’s policies, procedures, and guidelines.

Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Bill

The DHS Appropriations Act, 2022, appropriated $280 million to EFSP. This includes $130 million for local social service organizations aiding our nation’s hungry and homeless and $150 million for organizations providing humanitarian assistance to migrant families and individuals encountered by DHS.

Funds for Organizations Assisting Migrants

The EFSP National Board’s goal is to award funds as efficiently as possible to meet the urgent needs of local agencies in assisting the unique and vulnerable migrant population encountered by DHS..

Awards to eligible organizations will be for reimbursement of services rendered during rolling spend periods, as well as prospective funding for approved projects and activities.

Who is Eligible?

Local nonprofit, faith-based, and governmental organizations in the United States that have provided, or will provide, shelter and other supportive services to families and individuals encountered by DHS.

How to Apply?

The application will be available on the EFSP website, and the application period will open later this spring. Service organizations’ applications should be submitted via the EFSP website under Supplemental Funding Info. The local boards and state set-aside committees (acting as local boards) will review and recommend service organizations’ applications and submit them via the EFSP website to the National Board for final review and award determination.

FEMA is in the process of meeting all requirements to award the $150 million to the National Board and anticipates the award to be made mid-April 2022.  Once awarded, the National Board will provide notification of funding availability to nonprofit, faith-based, and government organizations, and will provide guidance about participating in the program and the application process.  Applicant organizations will have the opportunity to request reimbursements on a quarterly basis, as well as to request advance or prospective funding.  Organizations will be able to apply for reimbursement of expenses back to January 1, 2022.

The application periods will be on a rolling, quarterly basis, as were the application periods for the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) humanitarian funding.  The application periods are anticipated to be scheduled as bulleted below.  If funds are still available, the quarterly application process will continue.  Further guidance from the National Board will be forthcoming. Additionally, applications, called Special Funding Requests (SFRs), may be submitted prior to the below dates for prospective funding.

  • Quarter 6 (April – June 2022 expenditures) will open to applicants on July 15, 2022
  • Quarter 7 (July – September expenditures) will open to applicants on October 15, 2022
  • Quarter 8 (October – December expenditures) will open to applicants on January 15, 2023

In the meantime, the National Board continues to support eligible organizations with present funding to ensure there are no interruptions in their humanitarian relief efforts.   

Interested agencies should prepare for the application process by gathering and organizing the necessary documentation (receipts and other proofs of purchase) for eligible services.

Eligible organizations must submit their applications within the application period defined in National Board guidance.

Allowable Costs

Allowable costs incurred during the timeframe outlined in National Board guidance will include:

  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Basic health and first aid
  • COVID-19 testing and associated medical care needed during quarantine and isolation
  • Other supportive services

All costs must have proper documentation, including receipts and other proofs of purchase, such as a cancelled check or bank statement showing electronic payment.

How Funds Will Be Awarded

Local boards in communities will review applications from local agencies and make recommendations to the National Board on which eligible organizations should be awarded funds. The EFSP National Board will review recommendations from the local boards and state set-aside committees (acting as local boards), make the final award determinations, and disburse funds directly to the awarded organizations.

Funding disbursement to local organizations is expected to begin as soon as a month after the application period is opened, or approximately mid-May 2021.  Most of the funding is anticipated to be awarded to service organizations from southern border states where the greatest needs are expected to be met, but organizations in all states nationwide may apply if they are serving this population of vulnerable people. 

Additional Funds for Carrying Out the Regular EFSP in Assisting People Nationwide

Applications for the $130 million in annual funding appropriated by Congress as part of the DHS Appropriations Act, 2022, to the regular EFSP will be accepted later. EFSP funds can be used for a broad range of services, including mass shelter, mass feeding, food pantries and food banks, utility bill payments to prevent cut-offs, rent/mortgage payments to prevent evictions/foreclosures, and transition assistance from shelters to stable living conditions. COVID-19 testing and associated medical care needed during quarantine and isolation will also be allowable expenditures with these supplemental funds.

The formula for allocating these funds to local communities (counties and cities) is established by the National Board to target areas of highest need. Factors considered in the formula are national population, unemployment, and poverty rates.  The $150 million in supplemental funding for providing shelter and other supportive services to families and individuals encountered by DHS is in addition to $130 million in annual funding for the EFSP. The formula method will be applied to allocating the $130 million to qualifying jurisdictions (counties or cities, and the $150 million providing humanitarian relief will be directly awarded to service organizations by the National Board.  A total of $280 million will have been made available to the EFSP National Board for fiscal year 2022.

Additional Resources

Local boards and contacts can be found on the EFSP website under the Supplemental Funding Info tab. Applicants do not need to contact their local boards to submit applications but can contact their local boards for technical assistance and to ask questions.

For additional questions, contact EFSP staff at suppfund@uww.unitedway.org.