Administration of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) Funding Authorized Under the FY2019 Border Supplemental

This Insight provides a brief overview of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), and funding provided for it through the FY2019 Border Supplemental.

General EFSP Administration

The EFSP provides grants to private nonprofit organizations and local governments to supplement and expand ongoing efforts and local programs to provide shelter, food, and supportive services for individuals and families who are homeless or experiencing economic emergencies. It was first authorized under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-77), later renamed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The EFSP is codified in 42 U.S.C. ยง11331 et seq. EFSP funds may be used to provide the following:

  • food (i.e., served meals or groceries);
  • lodging (i.e., mass shelter or hotel);
  • one month's rent or mortgage payment;
  • one month's utility bill; and
  • equipment necessary to feed or shelter people (up to $300 per item).

Although the EFSP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), it is not linked to major disasters or emergencies. It is governed by a National Board that is chaired by a Director (by statute, the FEMA Administrator). The National Board also includes representatives from private nonprofit organizations. When Congress appropriates funding to the EFSP, the Director is responsible for awarding a grant to the National Board, and the National Board is responsible for establishing program guidelines and disbursing the funding. Localities (i.e., cities or counties) are generally designated for funding based on a formula that includes population, poverty, and unemployment data. Each locality designated for funding must establish a Local Board, which is responsible for advertising funding availability and determining how their allotment of local funding will be distributed, including selecting the grant recipients (i.e., private nonprofit organizations or public organizations of the local government in the individual locality). The National Board disburses funds directly to local recipient organizations (LROs) selected by the Local Boards. Additionally, localities that do not qualify under the formula may receive funds through the State Set-Aside process, which can also be used to allow localities that are designated for funding to receive additional funding.

EFSP Supplemental Funding

The Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019 (hereinafter "supplemental," P.L. 116-26) was enacted on July 1, 2019. In the supplemental, FEMA received $30 million for the EFSP "for the purposes of providing assistance to aliens released from the custody of the Department of Homeland Security [DHS]."

With regard to eligibility, the supplemental states that the EFSP funding

  • must only be distributed to "jurisdictions or local recipient organizations serving communities that have experienced a significant influx of such aliens" (i.e., aliens released from DHS custody); and
  • "may be used to reimburse such jurisdictions or local recipient organizations for costs incurred in providing services to such aliens on or after January 1, 2019."

Program Status

FEMA issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) (DHS-19-DAD-024-00-02) for the $30 million in EFSP supplemental funding on July 30, 2019, with a closing date of August 5, 2019. The National Board was the only eligible applicant.

FEMA announced its award of $30 million in EFSP supplemental funding to the National Board on August 16, 2019. The supplemental requires the National Board to disburse the funding not later than 30 days from the date the funding is awarded. The NOFO also directs the National Board to issue reimbursement guidance within 30 days of FEMA awarding the grant funds. The EFSP website was updated the week following the award announcement to provide the Supplemental Funding Guidance (hereinafter "Guidance"), which includes additional information on eligible reimbursements and the application process.

The deadline to submit applications is Friday, September 6, 2019. There are two application tracks: (1) eligible local nonprofit, faith-based, or governmental entities can apply through their Local Board; and (2) statewide organizations that provided direct services (but not through a local nonprofit, faith-based, or governmental entity) may apply through their State Set-Aside (SSA) Committee, which functions as a Local Board but for statewide interests. After the close of the application period, Local Boards and SSA Committees will have 10 business days to review the applications to ensure applicant eligibility and application completeness. The applications will then be submitted to the National Board for review and final award determinations. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered for an award. Per the Guidance, "[t]he National Board anticipates that funding award notifications will be sent to Local Boards and SSA Committees not later than late September or early October 2019." The National Board will provide the awarded funds directly to the LROs upon receipt of the Local Board Plans and LRO Certifications from awarded agencies.

Program Parameters

Per the NOFO, the funding has been separated into a $25 million and a $5 million allocation, and the National Board will prioritize funding to the most impacted areas. FEMA identified the four border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California as having experienced a significant influx of aliens when it divided the grant funding into two allocations. These four border states are eligible for funding from the $25 million allocation. The remaining $5 million may be allocated to any of the 50 states (including the four border states).

Funding will be awarded competitively. Per the Guidance, the National Board will consider several factors when making award determinations, including

  • migrant release data received from Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE)/Customs and Border Protection (CBP);
  • proximity to ICE/CBP facilities performing releases;
  • number of migrants served; and
  • applicant information on direct costs incurred in serving migrants.

Reimbursements will prioritize direct shelter, food, and related expenses, and then secondary expenditures (e.g., other services, such as medical services) may be considered for reimbursement.

Applicants may review the application instructions and complete the supplemental funding application on the EFSP "Supplemental Funding Information Details" website. The website also includes the guidance documents and webinar training resources that support program participation and administration. Potential applicants may also contact their Local Board for additional information.