Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (or “FEMA”) is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The agency’s primary purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities. The governor of the state in which the disaster occurs must declare a state of emergency and formally request from the President that FEMA and the federal government respond to the disaster. FEMA is led by a President-appointed, U.S. Senate-confirmed FEMA Administrator.
While on-the-ground support of disaster recovery efforts is a major part of FEMA’s charter, the agency provides state and local governments with experts in specialized fields and funding for rebuilding efforts and relief funds for infrastructure by directing individuals to various other relevant government resources, such as the Small Business Administration.
The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) is a federally funded program administrated by FEMA. The EFSP supplements and expands the ongoing work of local social service organizations, both nonprofit and governmental, to provide shelter, food, and supportive services to individuals, families, and households who are experiencing, or at risk of, hunger and/or homelessness.
Most recently, during the COVID-19 outbreak, FEMA has worked with California in creating 15,000 hotel rooms to shelter homeless (article). Under a cost-sharing agreement, FEMA will fund 75% of hotel leases. Only homeless people who test positive for the virus, exhibit symptoms, or are particularly susceptible to the virus because of their age or underlying health conditions will be allowed in hotel rooms for which the federal government is paying.