FEMA makes emergency food and shelter funds available in Orleans County

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 9 February 2022 at 9:29 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Michelle Figueroa is chair of Orleans County’s Emergency Food and Shelter program board, funded by FEMA. She is shown here at her desk at Community Action, where she is the emergency services case worker.

ALBION – Organizations which provide emergency assistance to low-income or homeless individuals need to apply for funds from the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program by Feb. 25 or attend the board meeting at 10 a.m. that day at Community Action.

This program, funded by FEMA, provides money to each county in the nation, but comes with strict responsibilities and requirements, according to Michelle Figueroa, who has been chair of the local board which oversees this program since 2016.

EFSP was authorized by a federal act of 1987 to aid people with non-disaster related emergencies and can be used for a broad range of services. Monies allocated to each county are determined by the unemployment rate and the poverty level of that county. A county has to have at least 300 unemployed. This year, Orleans County will receive $58,916 Figueroa said.

To receive these funds, each county is required to convene a local board which must include the highest ranking individual in that county. In Orleans County, that is County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson. The rest of the board is made up of members from the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, domestic violence support, Salvation Army and United Way. These members, in addition to Figueroa and Johnson, include Ronnie Barhite, Ann Vail, Dean Bellack, Nyla Gaylord, Kelly Kiebala, Margie Aldaco, Ken Turner, Skip Helfrich, Katrina Chaffee, Jayleen Carney, Bruce Schmidt and Carol Whalin. This committee meets semi-annually, as required.

The main purpose of this notice is to inform local organizations they must apply to the local board to receive funds, Figueroa said. Local organizations which applied in the past and/or have received funds from this program include the American Red Cross, Housing Development Council, Lyndonville-Yates Food Pantry, St. Vincent de Paul, United Way, Ministry of Concern, Community Action, Rural Opportunity, the Medina Emergency Food Pantry, Faith Bible Baptist Church, Meals on Wheels, Independent Living and Calvary Tabernacle Food Pantry.

“We have to let the community know there are funds available to provide food, temporary lodging, utility assistance, transportation costs, minor equipment repairs and efforts in an emergency to comply with building codes for people with disabilities,” Figueroa said.

Orleans County has been receiving funds from this Emergency Food and Shelter program since 2013. Figueroa again stresses that any faith-based organization which helps low income individuals or the homeless and wishes to apply for funding from the EFSP must contact her at 589-5605 by Feb. 25 so the board can compile and file its report to the Federal board by March 11. Anyone may also call her at that number for more information.