Funds available for nonprofits, agencies to be reimbursed for cost of migrant surge

$110 million in funds available through Emergency Food and Shelter Program

SAN ANTONIO – The migrant surge has come at a cost to the communities, nonprofits and agencies that have been helping those in their care.

Starting now, they can apply for $110 million in reimbursement funds through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, of Laredo, helped secure the ESFP funding through the American Rescue Plan that goes directly to local governments and nonprofits.

The Democratic congressman who represents District 28 said during the 2014 surge, “The state was getting money, but they did not want to pass that on to the local government.”

Five years later, Cuellar helped pass the FY19 Border Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill that directly reimburses those who are helping the migrants, or who will be in the future.

“It’s made the reimbursement a lot easier,” Cuellar said through what’s known as the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program that reviews the applications and the documentation that’s submitted detailing the expenses.

Pastor Mike Smith operates one of the smallest shelters on the border at the Holding Institute in Laredo. Smith said he has all the receipts and documents to go with its application that he said should come to about $50,000 for expenses so far this year.

Smith said the reimbursement would be a godsend.

“Most assuredly, yes,” Smith said. “We’ve been having to float for the past few months.”

At the Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall, where more than 1,900 young boys ages 13-17 are housed, the federal government covers the cost of the leasing the facility. Its contract expires May 30.

However, Catholic Charities, which operates the shelter, is still reviewing the cost of what the agency has been doing and then assess what it will be applying for through the ESFP, said Christopher Ross, senior policy manager for Catholic Charities USA.

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Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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