Emergency Food and Shelter Program

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) is a restricted federal grant and funds are made available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). While Philadelphia City/County EFSP activities are administrated by Catholic Social Services, EFSP is not a program of Catholic Social Services

Application (PDF) Application Guidelines (PDF)


  1. The purpose of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) is to provide emergency shelter, food, rent/mortgage and utility assistance to individuals in dire need and for whom no other resources are available.
  2. EFSP Funds can be used only to supplement and expand eligible on-going services; funds may not be used to start new programs or to substitute other program funds.
  3. Shelter is the priority of this program. An independent review panel has been established to evaluate proposals. Funding decisions will be guided by the following policies:
    The Local Board presently expects to direct funding to shelter providers with first consideration given to making additional beds available at mass shelters (five or more beds) with outreach conducted by the Outreach Coordination Center or the Office of Homeless Services (OHS) – or for the creation or expansion of safe havens and with descending service priority as follows:


    1. Low-demand shelter beds not funded by the City, serving single men and women with special medical needs including physical frailty, behavioral health and/or substance abuse issues, including safe havens, or youth, including LBGTQI youth. A safe haven is defined by federal law, 42 U.S.C. § 11392, as a facility “(A) that provides 24-hour residence for eligible persons who may reside for an unspecified duration; (B) that provides private or semi-private accommodations; (C) that may provide for the common use of kitchen facilities, dining rooms, and bathrooms; (D) that may provide supportive services to eligible persons who are not residents on a drop-in basis; and (E) in which overnight occupancy is limited to no more than 25 persons.  
    2. Proposals to augment City-funded shelters with social services promoting self-sufficiency from a trauma informed perspective.
    3. Shelter beds not funded by the City, serving other populations including but not limited to families.

    Please Note:
    Agencies providing shelter under this program:

    • Must also be able to provide appropriate supportive services at their own expense.
    • Must maintain daily logs of persons utilizing EFSP-funded beds.
    • Cannot utilize OHS funds to supplement the cost of providing EFSP beds.
    • Cannot charge rent or fees to those individuals utilizing EFSP beds.

    Shelter providers are required to comply with the Shelter Standards of the Mayor’s Public/Private Task Force on Homelessness, and to comply with all local licensing regulations. The Local Board may waive compliance with certain of the shelter standards on a case-by-case basis. Copies of operating licenses must be submitted with the funding request.

  4. The Local Board presently expects to direct funds to providers of emergency rent, mortgage, utility assistance to low-income persons, with priority given to rental assistance, and food and diaper assistance to low income persons. Eligibility for assistance should be limited to households with income at or below 175% of Federal Poverty Guidelines, with providers having discretion to award grants to households with income up to 250% of Federal Poverty Guidelines in up to 25% of the cases.All providers must ensure access of services by all low-income populations and neighborhoods. Priority will be given to proposals demonstrating interagency collaboration, including BenePhilly and Neighborhood Energy Centers. Multi-agency proposals may suggest the percentage of funding to go to each participant; however, any grants must be paid directly to each participating agency.The Local Board will consider only proposals that provide coverage of all low-income populations and neighborhoods.

    Funds for emergency food can be used for the preparation and/or distribution of emergency food to low-income persons. The Local Board will not fund food distribution on the street.  The Local Board will consider proposals for refrigeration equipment for up to $300 per item.

  5. The Local Board may allow agencies receiving EFSP funds for emergency rent, mortgage, and utility assistance to use some of these funds for administrative costs.
  6. The Local Board may amend these policies and percentages upon review of the proposals received.
  7. The Local Board encourages applicants to diversify bases of financial support.
  8. No individual family or household may be charged a fee for service or required attendance at religious/counseling services with relation to assistance received under EFSP.
  9. The minimum grant per recipient organization is $2,000. Requests from individual agencies for EFSP funds may not exceed $200,000.
  10. The Phase 35 grant period is February 1, 2018 – TBD.


For a local organization to be eligible for funding it must:

  • be nonprofit or an agency of government;
  • have an accounting system or a fiscal agent approved by the Local Board;
  • have a federal employer identification number (FEIN);
  • conduct an independent annual audit if receiving $25,000 or more in EFSP funds;
  • if a private not-for-profit organization, have a voluntary board;
  • have all local permits and licenses in place;
  • if a shelter, meet the minimum shelter service standards developed by the Local Board;
  • practice nondiscrimination. Agencies with a religious affiliation wishing to apply for EFSP funds must not refuse services to an applicant based on religion or require attendance at religious services as a condition of assistance, or engage in any religious proselytizing in any program receiving EFSP funds;
  • have an existing capacity to deliver the services;
  • to the extent practicable, involve homeless individuals and families, through employment, volunteer programs, etc. in providing emergency food and shelter services;
  • have resolved any outstanding compliance issues pertaining to previous EFSP grants.

C. ELIGIBLE PROGRAM COSTS include but are not limited to the following:

  1. A per diem allowance of $12.50 per person per night for mass shelter or safe haven providers (five or more beds). The $12.50 per diem allowance may be expended by the grantee for eligible costs related to the operation of the mass shelter. Eligible costs include shelter rent, utilities, staff salaries, cots/mattresses, soap, linens, blankets, cleaning supplies, etc. Proposals to provide augmented care/supportive services must be funded in this manner.
  2. Mass shelters or safe havens providing clients with meals may also apply for separate funding in the “served meal” category. Meals are not part of “mass shelter” or allowable under the mass shelter per diem.
  3. Emergency off-site lodging (e.g., hotel, motel or other off-site shelter facility) for a maximum of thirty days assistance per individual or household during the program period and provided no appropriate on-site shelter is available. NOTE: A grantee may not operate as a vendor for other grantees, nor may a grantee act as a vendor for itself (e.g., paying past due or first month’s rent to itself on behalf of clients living in buildings owned by the grantee).
  4. Limited metered and non-metered utility assistance (including gas, electricity, water, sewer services, oil, coal, firewood) for individuals or households provided all other resources have been exhausted and payment is in arrears or due within 5 days. Payment is limited to one month’s cost for each metered utility or one delivery for each non-metered utility for each individual or household. Reconnect fees, but not deposits or late fees, are eligible, but only a one-month payment for each utility for each individual or household in each award phase is allowed.
  5. Limited emergency rent or mortgage assistance for individual or household if:
    1. Payment is in arrears or due within 5 calendar days;
    2. All other resources have been exhausted;
    3. Assistance is limited to one month’s cost for each individual or household provided through a one-time payment or in separate payments over a period of up to 90 consecutive days;
    4. Assistance is provided only once in each award phase for each individual or household.
  6. Purchase of food vouchers by food banks/pantries and other food providers.
  7. Transportation expenses related to transporting clients in shelter or delivery of food; limited to mileage reimbursement, contracted services, or public transportation.
  8. Purchase of consumable supplies essential to mass feeding (e.g., plastic cups, utensils, detergent, etc.) and/or mass shelters of five or more beds (e.g., soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, cleaning supplies, etc.).
  9. Purchase of first aid supplies for mass shelter providers and mass feeding sites.
  10. Purchase of small equipment not exceeding $300 per item and essential to mass feeding (e.g., pots, pans, toasters, blenders, etc.) and/or mass shelters (e.g., cots, blankets, linens, etc.).
  11. Minor emergency repair of small equipment (e.g. stove, refrigerator) essential to mass feeding or shelter not exceeding $300 in repair costs per item, to prevent termination or curtailment of services (with prior Local Board approval).
  12. Emergency repairs or facility improvements for non-governmental mass shelter or mass feeding facilities necessary to make the facility handicapped accessible or to bring the facility into compliance with local building codes or to keep the facility open during the program year, to a maximum of $2,500 (with prior Local Board approval).
  13. Shelter providers are required to comply with the Shelter Standards of the Mayor’s Public/Private Task Force on Homelessness, and to comply with all local licensing regulations.


Purposes for which funds CANNOT BE USED include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Rental security; deposits; revolving loan accounts; late fees.
  2. Deposits of any kind.
  3. Payment of more than one month’s rent.
  4. Payment of more than one month’s mortgage; first month’s mortgage, or down payment on mortgage.
  5. Payment of more than one month’s portion of an accumulated utility bill.
  6. Any payment made directly to a client.
  7. Cash payments of any kind including checks made out to cash or petty cash expenditures.
  8. Real estate property (land or buildings) of any kind.
  9. Payment of more than $300 per item of essential equipment.
  10. Lease-purchase agreements.
  11. Administrative cost reimbursement to state or regional offices of governmental or voluntary organizations.
  12. Lobbying efforts.
  13. Expenditures made prior to February 1, 2018.
  14. Expenditures made after TBD.
  15. Repairs of any kind to an individual’s house or apartment.
  16. Purchase of supplies or equipment for an individual’s home or private use.
  17. Gas or repairs for client-owned transportation; maintenance or repairs to agency-owned vehicles; or insurance for client-owned or agency-owned vehicles.
  18. Purchase of prescription medication or medical supplies.
  19. Purchase of clothing (except underwear/diapers for clients of mass shelters, if necessary).
  20. Payments for expenses not incurred (i.e., where no goods or services have been provided during the new program period.)
  21. Telephone costs, salaries or office equipment except as administration allowance as determined by the Local Board.
  22. Encumberment of funds; that is, payments for goods not received or services not rendered which are paid for on or before February 1, 2018.
  23. Off-site emergency lodging beyond thirty days.
  24. Facility rehabilitation for purposes other than compliance with building codes or handicap accessibility.
  25. Emergency building code repair or rehabilitation for a government-owned profit making or leased facility.
  26. Facility rehabilitation in excess of $2,500.
  27. Any cost not approved under agreement with the Local Board.
  28. Routine maintenance of agency facilities or service contracts on equipment.
  29. Rehabilitation for expansion of service.
  30. Emergency assistance for natural disaster victims; supplies bought for or in anticipation of a natural disaster.

NOTE: The National Board can make changes in program cost eligibility at the beginning of a new award phase.


  1. The Local Board may allow agencies receiving EFSP funds for emergency rent, mortgage, and utility assistance to use some of these funds for administrative costs. For agencies reimbursed the $12.50 per diem allowance for mass shelter, the per diem reimbursement must cover all program costs including administration.
  2. All program operations must be completed and paid for by the end of the spending phase.
  3. All award recipients must maintain appropriate documentation on funds received under this program and may be required to submit all documentation at the end of the program. Audits and on-site visits may be conducted by the staff of the National Board and/or the Local Board during or after the program year.
  4. All award recipients of rent, mortgage, and utility assistance will be obligated to participate in the encryption of all electronically transmitted messages that include a client’s personally identifying information. The EFSP Program Administrator will forward encryption instructions to all award recipients.

Please submit the following items via email:

  1. Application form.
  2. Completion of the annual program budget USING THE PROGRAM BUDGET FORM ATTACHED for each program seeking EFSP funding.
    • Requests for Shelter/Safe Haven/Respite Funding. Budget should cover those shelter locations at which EFSP dollars will be used (or for the program if you are not seeking mass shelter dollars). Awards will be made based on a per diem reimbursement of $12.50 per person per night of shelter care. Those applicants seeking augmented support for OHS-funded beds in order to provide an enhanced level of care must request the per diem method of reimbursement and should be sure to describe the exact nature of the services to be provided and submit an additional budget page showing exactly how the requested EFSP funds would be used.
    • Requests for Rent/Mortgage/Utility Funding. Please note that the Local Board may allow agencies receiving EFSP funds for emergency rent, mortgage, and utility assistance to use some of these funds for administrative costs.
    • See Application Form, Part IV, for more details.
  3. Agency-wide budget for the current fiscal year.
  4. Agency’s Board of Directors roster.
  5. Agency’s IRS tax exemption letter.
  6. Organizational history and mission statement (not to exceed one page).
  7. Agency’s most recent audited financial statements. Note: Agencies requesting less than $25,000 in EFSP funding may substitute board-approved financial statements instead of an audit. Agencies currently receiving a General Operating Grant from United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey do not need to submit an audit.
  8. Shelter providers only must submit each of the following documents:
    • Certificate of Occupancy, indicating shelter’s legal capacity
    • Current Housing Inspection from the Department of Licenses and Inspections
    • Current Food Preparation License from the Department of Licenses and Inspections
    • Current Food Safety Certifications
    • Most recent certification/inspection of the facility’s fire alarm system
    • Most recent OHS monitoring report, for agencies that have a current contract with the Office of Homeless Services.
    • Most recent monitoring reports from other city agencies with which your agency has a current contract for shelter services (e.g., Coordinating Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Department of Human Services, etc.).
    • The enclosed survey on Shelter Standards Compliance, for agencies that do not currently have an OHS contract.
  9. Emergency Food providers only must ALSO submit each of the following documents:
    • Current Food Preparation and Serving Licenses from the Department of Licenses and Inspections
    • Current Food Safety Certifications
    • Certified Best Practices for Creating Safe and Dignified Experiences for Emergency Meal Guests (See Attached)
    • Certified Definitions of Safety, Dignity, and Trauma-Informed Practice (See Attached)


Applications will be evaluated by the Local Board with special reference to the following:

  1. A demonstrated ability by the agency to deliver a well integrated emergency assistance program.
  2. The method for assuring that services will be made accessible and limited to individuals and families in the greatest need.
  3. The cost-effectiveness of the service to be provided.
  4. Supportive services available within the agency.
  5. Effective linkages with other agencies and services such as counseling, referral, day center care, etc.
  6. Effective utilization of its full award pertaining to past EFSP grant(s).
  7. Compliance with program cost eligibility and reporting requirements pertaining to past EFSP grant(s).
  8. The brevity and clarity of the proposal as a whole.


The application form and required attachments must be received by 5:00 pm on Friday, May 18, 2018. Please submit application and required attachments via email to Cindy Volkert at cvolkert@chs-adphila.org.