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Supplemental emergency food and shelter funds arrive later than usual

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Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties finally will receive their supplemental federal Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds for the year, several months later than usual.

The Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County, the fiscal agent for those funds in Jefferson County, received notification recently that it would receive $47,180 to award to nonprofit agencies that can deliver emergency food or shelter programs.

According to the national shelter program board, the St. Lawrence County Community Development Program received $49,665 on behalf of St. Lawrence County.

“The need is always great in our county for heat and rental assistance,” said Tammy S. Kitto, CAPC emergency services manager. “This is just to supplement ongoing programs. You may not get it each year.”

This year, 24 of the state’s 62 counties received an award, according to the national EFSP board’s website.

Lewis County was left out. Lewis County Opportunities CEO Scott P. Mathys said this is the second consecutive year the county didn’t receive any of the money.

“We’ve been passed over again, and that will obviously be very hard for people in this area,” he said. “We are concerned for residents in this area as we enter into the winter season.”

Lewis County Opportunities, which is the fiscal agent in that county, last received a program award, $17,000, in federal fiscal year 2009-10.

CAPC and any agency that normally would have applied for subgrant awards at the beginning of the year must do so now. Typically, Ms. Kitto said, CAPC receives notification in January of the overall award. Selected organizations are notified in the spring, and funds typically are to be spent by Nov. 30.

This year, CAPC didn’t receive the award notification until a couple of days before the end of November.

Ms. Kitto said the formula under which award amounts are calculated was reviewed at every phase, and statistics, such as incomes, were obtained by the national EFSP board. She said the statistical source the national board used was different from that of prior years, and a thorough review of data was needed to make accurate award announcements.

CAPC aims to get Jefferson County agencies to apply for funds by 5 p.m. Monday. There are eligibility requirements: the agency must be a nonprofit or unit of government, eligible to receive federal funds, have an accounting system, practice nondiscrimination, demonstrate ability to deliver emergency food and shelter programs, and, if a private volunteer organization, there must be a volunteer board of directors.

After the deadline passes, the local shelter program board will review applications, determine allocations and submit its plan to the national board.

“I’m thankful we got some money, because not all counties get it,” Ms. Kitto said. “With all the disasters recently, we’re lucky we even got any. There’s a chance, hopefully, that we get some from the state set-aside — that’s what’s left over from original awards.”

The total state set-aside amount is $954,524, according to the national board.

Nonprofit agencies in St. Lawrence County already submitted their applications to receive a part of the county’s overall EFSP award.

Last year, Jefferson County received $46,448. CAPC typically receives part of the grant. With those supplemental funds, the agency is able to help about 150 people with rent and utility assistance.

For more information, nonprofits or governments in Jefferson County can call Ms. Kitto at the agency at 782-4900.

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