County gets more food, shelter funds

February 09, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County has been awarded $85,600 in federal funds under the Emergency Food and Shelter Board Program -- an increase of more than $12,000 over last year.

"Every little bit helps," said David Jordan, executive director of the Community Action Council, an agency that traditionally applies for some of those funds each year.

This year, though, Jordan predicts that more agencies will be vying for those funds, which might decrease the amount each agency gets.

The funds will be used to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county and are based on Washington County's total number of unemployed compared to the total number of unemployed in all qualifying jurisdictions.


Cold weather has strained the funds that agencies have to help clients offset home-heating needs, Jordan said. And more people are finding themselves in precarious financial situations because of layoffs and closing businesses.

In December 2008, the unemployment rate in Washington County soared to 7.4 percent, compared to 4.3 percent in December 2007.

The selection of Washington County was made by a national board chaired by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency and consists of representatives from The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, United Jewish Communities, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, Catholic Charities USA and United Way of America.

A local board is then charged with distributing funds appropriated by Congress to help expand the capacity of food and shelter programs in high-need areas.

The local board in Washington County is made up of representatives from the United Way, Washington County government, local affiliates of the previously mentioned national organizations, other local relevant nonprofit organizations and a local formerly homeless person.

That board will determine how the funds awarded to the Washington County area are to be distributed among emergency food and shelter programs run by local service organizations. It is responsible for recommending agencies to receive these funds and any additional funds available under this phase of the program.

Under the terms of the grant from the national board, local agencies chosen to receive funds must be private voluntary nonprofits or units of government, have an accounting system, practice nondiscrimination, and have demonstrated the capacity to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs.

Private voluntary organizations must have voluntary boards.

Washington County previously has distributed federal funds to Washington County Community Action Council, The Salvation Army, CASA Inc., Interfaith Service Coalition and St. John's Shelter for the Homeless.

Public or private voluntary agencies interested in applying for the funds may contact the United Way, 33 W. Franklin St., Hagerstown, or call 301-739-8200. The deadline for submitting applications is Feb. 18.

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