Historic Triangle Receives Infusion of Federal Funds to Overcome Food and Shelter Crisis
312 Waller Mill Road, Suite 100
Williamsburg, VA 23185
(757) 253-2264 – voice
(757) 253-2837 - fax
For Immediate Release
Contact: Susan Whitley or Sharron Cornelius at 253-2264
Date: August 14, 2009;
The economic slide spreading from Wall Street to Main Street has hit the Greater Williamsburg area according to Historic Triangle emergency shelter and food providers. Local nonprofits are witnessing a crisis of homelessness and a lack of food and shelter due to the increased unemployment rate, Susan Whitley, Director of Impact with the United Way of Greater Williamsburg, reported to the local Emergency Food and Shelter Program Board this month.
Stephen Terveer, Chief Executive Officer of the Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula, said pantries and food distribution sites are facing a 12 percent higher demand this season. The Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula consists of 21 partner agencies and distribution sites in the Greater Williamsburg area. "Our partner agencies are serving 25,846 more people this year than for the same period last year, with nearly 3,900 coming from the James City County-Williamsburg area," he said.
As the recession unfolds, it is clear the face of poverty is changing, according to Capt. Debbie Bowers, Executive Director of The Salvation Army in Williamsburg. Now "the poor" includes not just the chronically or borderline homeless but workers who have lost jobs or have reduced work hours or face increased housing costs. “People who used to donate their time at Salvation Army are now coming through our doors seeking services,” she said.
Since the beginning of the year, Avalon, the area’s only emergency shelter for women and children, has experienced a 60 percent increase in requests for emergency shelter due to family violence or homelessness. Sarah Meacham, Executive Director of Avalon said, “Our nineteen bed shelter has been consistently full for the past six months and the calls for shelter keep coming in.”
On Thursday, April 9, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced funding available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program (EFSP). The EFSP National Board has awarded funds made available through ARRA to the City of Williamsburg and James City County to help shelter and food providers meet the increasing need.
“These ARRA funds will provide immediate relief to communities impacted by unemployment and poverty," said DHS Secretary Napolitano. "The community organizations receiving this money not only support Americans in need, but also play a crucial role in helping to get our economy back on track and families back on their feet."
EFSP uses measures of unemployment and poverty to allocate the funds it receives from FEMA to city and county jurisdictions around the country.
Since April, $31,832 has been distributed in the Greater Williamsburg area. Avalon has received $8,956 for emergency shelter; the Salvation Army has received $9,862 for emergency shelter and $8,683 for rent/mortgage/utility assistance; and for food distribution to local pantries, the Foodbank of the VA Peninsula has received $4,331.
For more information about the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program or the Local Board, contact Susan Whitley at United Way of Greater Williamsburg, 253-2264.
United Way of Greater Williamsburg serves the City of Williamsburg, James City County and the Bruton District of York County. In addition to the annual campaign, United Way of Greater Williamsburg operates the Information and Referral Helpline for those seeking information about health and human service programs in the area.
For more information about the Helpline, volunteering or to make a contribution, please call the offices at 253-2264 or visit the website at UWGW.org.