According to WFAE, Nine Charlotte human service programs are scrambling to replace more than $500,000 in funding cut last month by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The money was part of FEMA’s Emergency Food & Shelter Program and went to the county’s five homeless shelters, three emergency food programs and Crisis Assistance Ministry, which offers rent and mortgage help for those facing evictions.
Randall Hitt of the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte said Monday the cuts come as agencies finalize their budgets for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. “It’s also a source of funding that has been around for quite a while and while all of us never want to take for granted any kind of funding, this is certainly a critical hit for us and one that we weren’t expecting,” Hitt said.
The Emergency Food & Shelter program began in the late 1980s. Unlike other FEMA funding, it’s not tied to a disaster declaration but is intended to help private and government social service agencies.
FEMA said Mecklenburg County no longer qualifies for the aid because its unemployment and poverty rates are below the program’s thresholds. Hitt said it’s been that way for a couple of years, and he’s not sure why FEMA is enforcing the limits now.
The program thresholds are currently 6.5 percent unemployment or a poverty rate of 17.3 percent. Mecklenburg County’s unemployment rate stands at about 4 percent, while the poverty rate is about 12 percent. Hitt acknowledges that joblessness and poverty aren’t up to the county’s standards.
“So while that’s great on some avenues,” Hitt said, “You know you’re still talking about nearly 130,000 people who are in poverty here in our community.” The $527,365 in cuts included a total of $222,000 from Mecklenburg County’s five shelters – Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Salvation Army Center of Hope.