The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) funds local human service agencies and social service organizations to provide shelter, food, and supportive services to individuals and families on an emergency basis. The program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through United Way Worldwide. Unlike other FEMA programs EFSP is not intended for use in the aftermath of a disaster but instead for people who are in other crises that have made them homeless or vulnerable to becoming homeless.
A national board composed of representatives from six major social services organizations establishes program guidelines. Funds are allocated by formula to cities and counties, which are required to convene a local board with members who mirror the composition of the national board. The local board manages program administration at the local level, including determining client eligibility for assistance, publishing a notice of funding availability and determining which organizations receive an award. Local decisions are submitted to the national board for approval and direct disbursement of funds to the recipient organizations.
Eligible program services include: food (prepared meals or groceries); lodging (in a shelter or hotel); one month’s housing assistance to cover rent, mortgage, and/or utility bills; transportation assistance associated with receipt of food or shelter; supplies and equipment to provide food or shelter (up to $300 per item); and minor repairs to address building code violations or handicapped accessibility at shelter or food assistance facilities.
Download a transition plan prepared by the Department of Homeland Security that describes procedures for transitioning EFSP from FEMA to HUD.
 The organizations are the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Salvation Army, and United Way Worldwide.