Sunday, January 22, 2006

Emergency Food and Shelter Program

A good model to distribute a little money

There is this little pool of money from the Federal Government called the Emergency Food and Hunger program administered by the United Way (formerly FEMA). They take 1% administration and we distribute around $880,000 in funding each year. There is a local board made up of providers, City, County, advocates, religious and foundations all meet to decide on the distribution of these funds. There is some difficulty in that a number of the providers are also voting members and have to abstain from voting on certain issues, but overall the process works well. If most of the board shows up then it is a very good group, and it does not hurt to have the providers present. The provider community can actually help to explain some of the problems, trends and issues in the system. The group has figured out a fair and equitable distribution of shelter dollars based on the size of the shelter and the number of people served over the previous year. They have also developed a process to convert hot meals to pantry meals in order to compare apples to apples. It is unfortunate all the dollars are not distributed in the community so simply and equitably. There are always issues about an agency's viability and the definition of homelessness, but it seems to work. I always wish that these experts would sit for a day and talk about broader issues like the distribution of all funding in the city, the ways to reduce the numbers in the shelter, and reducing the number of people entering the shelter.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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