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Funding Restored For Shelter And Food Programs — For Now

United Way of Central Carolinas

Charlotte emergency food and shelter programs that lost more than $500,000 in federal funding in June are getting that money back — at least for this year. 

The United Way of Central Carolinas said lobbying by local nonprofit leaders and elected officials has helped bring in $628,000 for this fiscal year.

The Men's Shelter, Salvation Army Center and Loaves & Fishes food pantry were among nine local programs that learned in June they had lost $527,000 in funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Emergency Food & Shelter Program (EFSP).  

FEMA said at the time that Mecklenburg County no longer qualifies for the aid because its unemployment and poverty rates are below the program's thresholds.

But the county has won back funding through what United Way officials are calling a "coordinated effort" with agency leaders and U.S. Rep. Alma Adams.  

"We were able to secure additional dollars from both the state office and at the federal level, to help make up for the difference, that we didn't get any funds here locally," Laura Clark of the United Way said Tuesday afternoon.

The money includes $135,975 from a state allocation of EFSP funds and $492,093 in unclaimed federal funds through the program.

But Clark said the newly restored funds are a one-time thing.

"We aren't guaranteed to get those in the future," Clark said. "What we learned through this process, though, is that the community is willing to come together and both do the advocacy that we need to do to preserve these critical services … but also others, including the faith community, have stepped forward during this time and said, 'What can we do to help?'"

She said that bodes well for the future if the county isn't able to keep funding in the future.

Clark said the United Way will distribute the funding after an application process. She said all nine agencies that lost funding in June are invited to apply, as well as others.

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.