A surprise change in Federal Emergency Management Agency rules signals tough times ahead for local shelters.
Upon learning FEMA would not be making an expected $44,000 grant, SHARE announced that it would close its 15 shelters, potentially putting 500 people out on the street.
A $5,000 donation from St. Joseph Parish will keep the doors open until at least Aug. 15, but FEMA's new rules bode ill for poor people.
FEMA tightened eligibility requirements for its Emergency Food and Shelter Program, on which King County shelter providers and food banks have relied for more than two decades.
Under FEMA's new rules, counties must have an unemployment and poverty rate of at least 11.5 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively. King County's unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in June and, according to 2009 census data, 9.7 percent of the county's populace lives below the federal poverty line. Last year, FEMA funding totaled $1.2 million in King County, according to United Way. Downtown Emergency Service Center, St. Martin de Porres, the YWCA and 30 other shelters will be affected by this change -- all of them already beset by budget cuts.
SHARE is already $30,000 behind on its bills this year, said Jarvis Capucion, a resident of the SHARE-operated Tent City 3.
The YWCA was counting on $66,000 from FEMA that it planned to use across eight programs, including its Angeline's women's shelter in Belltown, said spokesperson Cathy MacCaul.