A coordinated effort between United Way of Central Carolinas (UWCC) and local nonprofit and political leaders has resulted in $628,068 of Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) funding for Mecklenburg County.


The funding comes after the disappointing news in May that Mecklenburg County no longer met the established thresholds. The county had been award EFSP funding from FEMA for 21 years, including $527,365 last year.


“When we come together as one, we are truly advocating for our neighbors most in need,” said Laura Clark, chief impact officer for United Way. “While we are all working to address our community’s economic mobility challenges, advocating for and providing a safety net for those that face unexpected life challenges is of upmost importance.”


The loss of EFSP funding would have deprived local organizations that provide food and shelter for Mecklenburg County’s most vulnerable residents. Those organizations, including the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, joined together to begin advocating to elected officials.


“While Mecklenburg County’s economy thrives, we see those left facing the very real struggle of sharply rising rents with stagnant wages at the front doors of our agencies,” said Liz Clasen-Kelly, executive director of Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. “We combined our voices, to make sure our elected officials were aware of our community’s reality of poverty and they listened.”


After advocating at the state level, Mecklenburg County received $135,975 from state set-aside EFSP funds.  U.S. Rep. Alma Adams then contacted FEMA in June challenging the criteria used to determine the allocation of EFSP funding. United Way applied for unclaimed funds at the federal level and was awarded $492,093. This makes for a total of $628,068 in EFSP funding for Mecklenburg County this year, a 25% increase over last year.


“Mecklenburg is a rapidly growing region experiencing an affordable housing crisis, a shifting job market and a growing opportunity gap among residents,” said Congresswoman Adams. “For the past 21 years, charitable organizations in Mecklenburg have received FEMA’s EFSP funding to help provide services to community members struggling to make ends meet. I directed my office to coordinate an emergency meeting with FEMA on behalf of the nine local groups impacted by FEMA’s decision to deny ESFP funding. I am proud that the unclaimed funds request submitted for Mecklenburg County was approved for $492,093 to help these organizations continue their critical advocacy efforts that provide necessary support to Mecklenburg residents.”


UWCC will receive the EFSP funding and distribute it to local agencies. A local EFSP board will determine how the funds are distributed.


Eligible organizations must be a private, voluntary non-profit or unit of government, be eligible to receive federal funds, have an accounting system, practice nondiscrimination, demonstrate the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs, and if they are a private voluntary organization, they must have a voluntary board.


Qualifying organizations wishing to apply should contact Janelle Martin at 704-371-6336 or jmartin@uwcentralcarolinas.org to request an application.


Applications must be postmarked no later than August 24, 2018.