Federal funding to needy declines County's allotment to drop by $40,000 from last year

Budget impasse plays role

Reductions come as number seeking assistance increases

January 04, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Federal funding for Anne Arundel County shelters, food banks and other agencies that help the poor with emergency needs is down more than $40,000 from last year, but the number of people who need help is going up.

The decrease, part of the congressional cutback in spending on social programs, also means the nonprofit agencies administering many of the programs will have to scramble to make up the difference.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will give $139,637 to county nonprofit organizations recommended for grants by a board of representatives from county agencies and charities. Last year, nine county organizations received about $183,000 from the same program, said Marjorie Bennett, chairwoman of the county board that administers the program.

The reduction in emergency funding comes as the number of people with emergency needs in the county is increasing, said Ms. Bennett, special projects manager in the county Department of Social Services. From July through November, 2,353 people walked into department offices with emergency needs, up 20 percent over the same period in 1994, she said.

FEMA funding in Baltimore and Baltimore County also will go down this year, according to the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program managed by United Way of America.

Baltimore City will get $365,930, down about $158,000 from last year. Baltimore County will get $289,286, down almost $88,000 from last year. Eight other Maryland counties and the State Set-Aside Committee also receive money through the program.

The grants go to organizations that provide shelter, food, clothing or financial aid to people who have lost their homes or jobs, are in danger of being evicted or have other emergency needs.

Nationally, $100 million is expected to be available through the emergency food and shelter program this year, down about $30 million, said Donald McKee, executive director of the program's national board. Almost all the 2,500 jurisdictions receiving FEMA money will get less this year, he said.

They also will get the money later than usual. Federal government shutdowns have delayed distribution of the funds by several weeks because FEMA is not yet funded by Congress.

"We are waiting like everybody else for the budget impasse to be solved," said Mr. McKee. "Usually, by this time the money is out on the street."

Capt. Diane Shingleton, commanding officer of the Salvation Army Corps Community Center in Glen Burnie, said less money means the group will help fewer people. The center received $17,000 from FEMA last year to help people who were about to be evicted pay their rent or pay utilities if they had been cut off.

Agencies will have to ask individual donors and foundations to give more, said Toni Graff, executive director of Annapolis Area Ministries Inc.

"That's not going to be easy," Ms. Graff said. "How much can you ask people to give?"

Last year, her agency received a $19,000 FEMA grant to help run Light House, a 16-bed emergency shelter with a $199,950 budget, she said.

Though FEMA's budget has not been passed, the $100 million for Emergency Food and Shelter is "pretty secure," Mr. McKee said. He has told the jurisdictions how much they can expect this year so agencies can make plans.

Jurisdictions are selected based on poverty levels or unemployment. Their amount of money is based on unemployment.

Applications from agencies are due Jan. 19. The board likely will announce decisions in February.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.