January 9, 2019

Government Shutdown Affecting Growing Numbers across the Country

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US Capitol

As the partial federal shutdown continues with no end in sight, employees and programs, and the people and communities they support, are bearing heavier and heavier burdens.

The shutdown began on December 22, when the continuing resolution (CR) funding approximately 25 percent of the government expired. The remaining 75 percent of government functions were already fully funded for FY 2019, and so have not been affected.

The departments and agencies impacted by the partial shutdown include HUD, Treasury, Agriculture, Interior, State, Justice, Transportation, Commerce, Homeland Security, the EPA, IRS, FDA, and the US Interagency Council on Homelessness. Currently, 420,000 federal employees are working without pay and an additional 380,000 workers are furloughed, many of whom are low-wage government contractors living paycheck to paycheck and at risk of housing instability.

The longer the shutdown continues, the greater the impacts will be on both the federal employees who aren’t receiving paychecks and the people the shuttered departments are meant to serve. The consequences are particularly dire for the nearly 5 million households who live in HUD-assisted housing. These are low-income families, people with disabilities, veterans, and the elderly, and the shutdown is threatening their ability to pay rent and utilities and access health care and supportive services.

To make matters worse, it was already true that only one out of every 4 households that qualify for HUD assistance receive it, which means there are 15 million households who are eligible but on waiting lists. The shutdown may be impacting them too: with continued funding uncertainty, public housing agencies could be less likely to move families off waitlists, keeping them from affordable homes that could otherwise be improving their lives.

As more and more people begin to feel real effects, the media is covering their stories. NBC News recently published an article on how the government shutdown is hurting some of America’s poorest families. CNN has a page dedicated to personal experiences, and the network also interviewed the National Housing Trust’s Federal Policy Director, Ellen Lurie Hoffman, who highlighted the specific challenges facing HUD’s Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) program, and the 1.2 million households it serves.

Greater detail on the consequences of the shutdown for affordable housing and community development programs can be found in a letter to congressional leaders and press release published yesterday by the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF). Enterprise is a CHCDF member, and joins with affordable housing stakeholders and partners across the country in calling on Congress and the Administration to end the government shutdown and pass full year spending bills that provide strong funding for affordable housing and community development.

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