Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry today announced that $1.9 million in federal funds will be made available for Massachusetts for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program under the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The funds were appropriated by Congress as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
"Our local food pantries and shelters are stretched thin today because of the sudden surge in demand here in the Commonwealth," said Senator Kennedy. "In this economic crisis, it's essential to provide this needed assistance so that our most vulnerable citizens can get the basic meals and shelter they urgently need."
"This economic crisis has hit already vulnerable families especially hard," said Senator Kerry. "This investment will help folks who are hanging on by a thread and are dangerously close to ending up homeless or unable to feed their families. I applaud President Obama and his administration for helping Massachusetts provide vital services to those who need it most."
The Emergency Food and Shelter Program uses measures of unemployment and poverty to allocate the funds it receives from FEMA to city and county jurisdictions throughout the country. To serve areas in need that do not qualify based on this formula, a State Set-Aside Program was established in 1987 to award additional funds to each state based on extenuating circumstances, including recent spikes in unemployment and pockets of homelessness or poverty.
The funds can be used for a broad range of services, including mass shelter, mass feeding, food distribution through food pantries and food banks, one-month assistance with rent, mortgage and utility payments to prevent evictions, and transition assistance from shelters to stable living conditions. The Program's goals are to allocate funds to the neediest areas; ensure fast response; encourage public-private sector partnerships; guarantee local decision-making; and maintain minimal but accountable reporting. For more information on the Program, please visit http://www.fema.gov/government/grant/efs.shtm.
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