October 26, 2022

Senator Warren, Massachusetts Congressional Delegation Ask FEMA for Assistance with Program for Food and Shelter Grants

The delegation is requesting a briefing on the Emergency Food and Shelter Program used to aid migrants, as well as updated guidance to organizations and revisions to the program's website

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led a letter with the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell and Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) Chair Michael Lee requesting help for local organizations to find the resources they need to support newly arrived migrants in Massachusetts. 

This request follows a letter sent last month by members of the Massachusetts delegation to FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urging them to ensure that EFSP funds are awarded as quickly and efficiently as possible to organizations providing humanitarian aid to migrants in Massachusetts.

“We have already asked FEMA and DHS to award EFSP funds as quickly and with as little bureaucratic delay as possible to Massachusetts organizations that are providing humanitarian aid to migrants,” wrote the lawmakers. “FEMA must now also ensure that these funds are accessible to organizations that are new to the program.”

EFSP is charged with distributing grant awards to local humanitarian agencies and other entities that provide shelter, food, transportation, and related aid to migrants. Dozens of Massachusetts organizations have used EFSP awards, but some service organizations are either unaware of EFSP or have not previously received awards. Without experience or knowledge of the application process, organizations face barriers in accessing the program.

“Massachusetts organizations have capably provided dignified humanitarian assistance to people in need,” wrote the lawmakers. “However, they have also told us that they need more resources to support the growth in the number of migrants arriving within this relatively short period of time.” 

To ensure that these worthy organizations are able to participate in the program, the lawmakers are asking that FEMA:

  1. Conduct enhanced outreach to Massachusetts organizations to share updated guidance on how to apply for and access EFSP funds;
  2. Update the EFSP website and;
  3. Provide a briefing to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation regarding FEMA’s current efforts to make EFSP funds more accessible.

Senator Warren was joined on this letter by her colleagues in the Massachusetts Congressional delegation: Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representatives Richard Neal (D-Mass.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), and Bill Keating (D-Mass.).

Senator Warren has long led efforts to protect the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, including the following steps:

  • Last month, Senator Warren joined colleagues on a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leadership urging them to provide additional humanitarian assistance funding for EFSP in the Continuing Resolution.
  • Also last month, Senator Warren released a statement decrying efforts to use asylum seekers as political pawns and committed to assisting communities in need. 
  • In July 2022, Senator Warren called on the Biden administration to extend Temporary Protected Status for Venezuela in light of the deteriorating political and economic situation in the country. 
  • In May 2022, Senator Warren joined a letter to Senate appropriators requesting robust funding for FEMA’s EFSP program for the upcoming year. 
  • In February 2022, Senator Warren joined a letter to President Biden expressing concern over the treatment of Black migrants attempting to seek asylum. 
  • In October 2021, Senator Warren joined a letter to DHS and the Department of State expressing outrage over the cruel treatment of Haitian migrants attempting to seek asylum.