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Applications being accepted for FEMA emergency food, shelter money

SALISBURY — In the previous fiscal year, Rowan Helping Ministries provided shelter to over 700 adults and children and served nearly 80,000 meals to those in need.

That wouldn’t have been possible, Kris Mueller said, without funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s emergency food and shelter grant program.

“We definitely need this funding to continue operating our shelter and providing meals for Jeannie’s kitchen,” said Mueller, who serves as the nonprofit’s grant writer. “These are important sources of funding for the programs we offer. Without it, it would be tough to operate at the level that we do and serve as many people as we do.”

Local nonprofit agencies like Rowan Helping Ministries can now apply or re-apply for a portion of the $56,805 that was recently earmarked by the federal government for Rowan County. The grant program is open to agencies, not individuals, that have emergency food and shelter services.

“This fund is for the purpose of keeping people in their homes or putting people in homes who are homeless,” said Melissa Robbins, finance and operations director for Rowan County United Way. “Hopefully to prevent losing their home, but if not to prevent, but to get them into a home.”

The distribution of the funds will be decided by a local board composed of representatives from the Rowan County United Way, Rowan County’s Department of Social Services, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, the Catholic community, the Protestant community and the Jewish community.

Robbins said that the annual program has been around for several decades, but has never been more necessary than right now.

“Especially right now with the impacts of COVID, for these agencies this money is really important,” Robbins said. “There are plenty of people that are in need.”

Robbins said that the grant money could help agencies supply much needed resources to people who have fallen through the cracks and were not benefited by federal or state aid during the pandemic.

“Sometimes it’s harder to justify money used for the CARES Act because maybe the employer lays off people but they won’t say the reason they’re laying them off is because of COVID,” Robbins said. “Without other justification, some of the money may not be available for them to utilize.”

The grant funding could help deliver a warm meal and a place to stay for someone who has fallen on hard times. Rowan Helping Ministries provides housing for an average of 73 guests per night and is able to do so in part because of the FEMA funding.

Rowan County has previously distributed Emergency Food and Shelter Funds to The Salvation Army, Rowan Helping Ministries, Family Crisis Council and Capstone Recovery Center. Those agencies were responsible for providing 1,473 meals and 4,179 nights of lodging. They also assisted with 30 rent or mortgage bills and 37 utility bills.

Under the terms of the grant from, local agencies are eligible for funding is they meet certain criteria:

  • Must be private, voluntary non-profits or units of government.
  • Must be eligible to receive federal funds.
  • Must have an accounting system.
  • Must practice nondiscrimination.
  • Must have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs.
  • If the organization is a private voluntary, it must have a voluntary board.

Agencies interested in applying for Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds must contact the Rowan County United Way office, financedirector@rcunitedway.org, or call 704-633-1802 for an application. The deadline for applications to be received is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

Rowan Helping Ministries, Mueller said, will be among the agencies who will apply.

Once applications are received, they will be reviewed by the Rowan County board and will then be passed up to the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter National Board for review. Robbins said that a timeline hasn’t been nailed down for when funds will be approved and distributed, but said that it has happened fairly quickly in the past.

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