Adams Challenges Mecklenburg’s FEMA Funding Cut

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Adams sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on behalf of nine Mecklenburg hunger and housing organizations. The letter challenges the criteria used by FEMA that determines the allocation of their Emergency Food and Shelter Program funding (EFSP). Earlier this year, FEMA rejected Mecklenburg’s funding request. This resulted in $500,000 in cuts to vital local programing.

“Mecklenburg County has serious hunger and housing crisis and we need every resource available to address them,” said Congresswoman Adams. “For the past 21 years, charitable organizations in Mecklenburg have received FEMA’s EFSP funding. Unfortunately, this year, Mecklenburg’s funding request was denied. In response, my office coordinated an emergency meeting with the nine local groups impacted and convened a call with FEMA. Those meetings made it clear that FEMA’s funding formula fails to adequately evaluate our community’s need. Mecklenburg is a rapidly growing region experiencing an affordable housing crisis, a shifting job market, and a growing opportunity gap among residents. The current formula does not take these factors fully into consideration when determining a county’s eligibility, which is why I sent this letter. Our efforts successfully secured $135,975 to narrow this year’s gap, but it is not enough. The funding formula must be fair, and able to address the unique needs of our community, which has nearly 130,000 people living in poverty.”

“Losing $500,000 in EFSP funding will have a tremendous impact on our county,” said Randall Hitt, Director of Philanthropy for the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. “Consider that, right now, these funds are directly helping 129,224 disadvantaged adults and children living in our district. These are the individuals and families who can least afford a cut in basic services like food, shelter, and housing.”

“After finding out Mecklenburg County would not receive funding from the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board this year, we began working with our agency partners and Congresswoman Alma Adams to identify other funding sources,” said Sean Garrett, Executive Director of United Way of Central Carolinas. “We’ve secured $135,975 in funding from the state, and we continue to work with our partners and Congresswoman Adams to apply for unclaimed funds at the federal level.”

Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) funds are used by Mecklenburg organizations to provide rental, food, and utility assistance. There are nine organizations that have been impacted: Loaves and Fishes, Men's Shelter of Charlotte, The Relatives, Safe Alliance’s Clyde and Ethel Dickson Domestic Violence Shelter, Salvation Army's Center of Hope, Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, Urban Ministry Center and With Friends and Crisis Assistance Ministry.

The process for determining the County’s eligibility has not changed. Eligibility criteria includes. the considerations: poverty, unemployment, and unemployment within a municipality. However, the unemployment rate, has been reduced significantly. Previously, the high unemployment rate has made the county eligible for funding. When a county is not deemed eligible, The National Board for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program then looks at the city level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In this case, Mecklenburg County has actually never been eligible, based on the county level data. Therefore, the cut in funding is due to a change in city level data, which does not take into account disparities among individual communities.