Funds help families in crisis
Organizations that may apply for EFSP funds must meet the following criteria:
• Be IRS-approved 501(c)(3) tax-exempt or a Health & Human Service unit of government
• Have established financial accounting systems, with annual financial audits
• Provide services under nondiscrimination policies
• Have established programs that deliver assistance in Yuma County
• Have a voluntary governing board
Qualifying agencies interested in applying should call Jones at 783-0515. Funding applications are available at 180 W. 1st St., Suite B, in Yuma.
The application deadline is Oct. 26.
Disaster can strike a family at any time. It might not involve an earthquake or a fire. It might come in the form of a job loss or illness, leaving the family's breadwinner unable to work.
This is when local service agencies and nonprofit organizations can step in and assist families get through such times of crisis, perhaps helping them pay rent and utilities and putting food on their tables.
In turn, those local agencies can do all this with the help of the Yuma County Emergency Food and Shelter Program (ESFP), which was recently awarded $243,325 in federal funding.
“EFSP funds have helped hundreds, if not thousands, of people,” said program coordinator Karina Jones, also resource development and marketing director at United Way of Yuma County.
During non-natural disaster emergencies, local agencies can provide food in the form of served meals or groceries and shelter, such as paying for a hotel stay.
For example, in the last phase of funding, Catholic Community Services served 5,000 meals through its adult day health care and senior nutrition programs.
The Western Arizona Council of Governments is one of few agencies that provide rent or mortgage and utilities assistance. “Over the years they have been able to assist hundreds of families stay in their homes,” Jones said.
Agencies can also use EFSP funds to pay for equipment or transportation costs needed to feed or shelter people experiencing a crisis. “But we prefer that it's used for food, lodging or rent and utilities assistance,” Jones added.
United Way of Yuma County was selected to distribute these funds by the national board chaired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The board includes representatives from American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, The Salvation Army and United Way Worldwide.
United Way of Yuma County, as well as various local nonprofit organizations and community volunteers, will form a board and determine how the local funds will be distributed among emergency food and shelter programs run by service organizations in Yuma County.
“United Way's job is to assemble a local board to make funding decisions. United Way makes sure agencies are good stewards of taxpayers' money and that the funds are used appropriately,” said Jones.
Government and agency partnerships “allow funding decisions to stay at a grass-roots level,” she noted.
The funds received this time ($243,325) are more than what the county received in the last phase ($225,692).
The National Board determined area eligibility for funds based on a formula involving population, poverty and unemployment data.
Yuma County fell well within the eligibility standards, as Jones pointed out. “Yuma County had a 27 percent unemployment rate in August.”
The ESFP began in 1983 with a $50 million grant. It was created by Congress to help meet the needs of hungry and homeless people throughout the United States. It has since grown significantly, with the most recent grant for Phase 30 at $120 million.
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.