Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Policy Update: DHS Allocates $350 Million to FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP)

This is an update to our January blog post on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP). In our previous blog, we shared how EFSP works, and new funding being allocated to the program by Congress to support essential services for asylum seekers coming to the United States (US) at historic levels.

On February 28, 2023, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced $350 million in funding under the humanitarian portion of EFSP, entitled EFSP-H. This new allocation is a stopgap measure while a new DHS program, the Shelter and Services Program (SSP), is created. Once established, the SSP will aim to expand federal funding opportunities available to entities supporting asylum seekers. Of the $800 million allocated by Congress in the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act – signed into law on December 29, 2022 – $350 million will go immediately to EFSP-H while the rest will be initial funding for the new SSP, a competitive grant program whose parameters will be announced later in 2023. For now, the EFSP National Board updated existing guidance to outline specific application and eligibility requirements for this new allocation to EFSP-H. 

What is new? 

  • Funding: The initial $350 million will be used for EFSP-H and distributed via the National Board (EFSP governing body).
  • Deadlines: The application period opened on March 3, 2023, and reimbursement applications and Humanitarian Advance Funding Requests (HAFR) are due by April 2, 2023. In lieu of rolling deadlines previously established, all Local Recipient Organizations and Fiscal Agents must submit requests by the April deadline. 
  • Eligible Period: The eligibility period is from January 1 to December 31, 2023. However, funding can be available from July 1, 2022, and onward, if the applicant is otherwise eligible and meets other criteria – including not having already received EFSP funding for the eligible period from July 1 to December 31, 2022.

Who can apply? 

Eligible applicants can be non-profit, faith-based, or governmental entities providing humanitarian relief to migrants that have encountered DHS. While current or former EFSP participation is not a requisite for participation, prioritization will be given to organizations in the US southwest border states including California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Additionally, organizations outside of these states will be prioritized if they are receiving migrants directly from border states and providing humanitarian services to migrants. 

What can be applied for? 

Broadly, primary services (food and shelter), secondary services (medical care, clothing), and wrap around services (administrative, facility, and transportation) are all eligible. These costs must meet documentation and eligibility requirements, as well as procurement standards to be eligible. See our first blog or full EFSP-H guidance for details.

When are applications due? 

Urgency is key – the application period is March 3 to April 2, 2023, and is only for eligible costs incurred from January 1 to February 28, 2023. However, there are exceptions in which an applicant can request funding for costs incurred between July 1 and December 31, 2022. We anticipate more funding periods may subsequently open, but no firm guidance has been released yet.

Where to apply? 

Eligible applicants must submit through Local Boards (localized versions of the governing body, the National Board) at the EFSP website. 

What comes next? 

Application deadlines are tight, and while we expect more funding after this first round, we do not recommend waiting to apply if you are currently an eligible applicant. The SSP will likely take several months for DHS (along with FEMA and CBP) to establish. In the meantime, FEMA is hosting webinars to help potential applicants. 

We will continue to provide additional guidance and best practices surrounding the use of this EFSP and SSP financial assistance.

Sage Hart is a Senior Managing Associate in Hagerty’s Recovery Division, supporting various natural disaster recovery and COVID-19 response projects in New York, Puerto Rico, California, and other areas of the country. His experience and expertise include program management, policy analysis, finance, and data analytics. Sage holds a master’s degree in international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and a Bachelor’s in finance from the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.