While the partial closure of the government lasts in a month, government programs to help some of the most vulnerable people in the country face widespread uncertainty and some say they are running out of money.
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Health services for urban Indians, shelters for victims of domestic violence and homelessness programs collapse with what was left of their budgets in the past year. closing or wondering when the most federal money would be available.
"A safety net that has a frayed bottom makes people a lot less, feels more financially fragile and more financially vulnerable than they already are," J. Collins, a professor at ABC News, told ABC News. University of Wisconsin-Madison.
And for those who rely on the government's safety net because they can not work for any reason, find that these services must reduce or completely close the doors.
Steve Berg, vice president of policy at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, said many programs were still using their federal money since fiscal 2017. Many groups get a lot of their budget with competitive federal funding each year, but the rewards for 2018 have yet to be announced, even though Congress has allocated more money to last year's homelessness programs, a- he declared.
"There are already some programs that have run out of FY 2017 funds and do not have money to run until HUD donates grants, but the number of programs will increase every day, "Berg told ABC News.
The Fort Peck Indian Reserve in northeastern Montana is photographed on December 14, 2017.
According to the HUD, 553,742 people experienced homelessness in 2017 and the vast majority of them lived in shelters or transitional housing. Hundreds of thousands of people have become permanent housing through HUD programs since 2017 and the agency said federal programs had helped reduce the number of chronically homeless by nearly 28% over the last decade in his last report to Congress.
He added that he was worried that more programs would not work completely if the closure continued and that it might incite homeowners to agree to no longer work with them in the future.
"The people who rely on these payments to find housing, many of them and, at the same time, many HUD housing programs rely on private landlords who are willing to rent to people who may not be able to afford it. not be all the ideas of the owner. of an ideal tenant, but … letting them dry dry is not a great way to treat your partners, "he said.
One of the HUD programs affected by the closure works specifically to assist homeless veterans in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Although the VA portion of the program is fully funded, Berg said the program had only enough money to pay the participants' rent in February.
Other advocacy groups, such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition, have also expressed concerns about the expiry of housing assistance contracts should the closure continue until In February.
Berg said he hoped the government would recall the HUD 's fired employees and release into the states, cities, and nonprofit organizations some of the money that traditionally used to support programs. help the homeless so that people in need can always get help.
"If the government can call on thousands of IRS employees to get their taxes refunded, it can appeal to some HUD employees to take them off the street," he said. -he declares.
Some offices that fund programs to assist victims of domestic violence or other crimes are still working or have sent federal money to the states for distribution. But Rachel Graber, National Policy Director for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said she was hearing very concerned programs and was starting to lay off staff and tighten budgets in the event that funds federal government would cease to be paid.
"As a rule, staff, victims and survivors have repercussions on the use of these services because there is a lot of uncertainty about the future and it is really scary for everyone, "she told ABC News.
At least one shelter for domestic violence victims in Tennessee has publicly stated that it had been necessary to fire staff to maintain basic services such as the hotline and emergency shelters during the closing. Several shelters in Florida are also reported to have fired staff.
Graber explained that, to the extent that victims leave an unstable situation, it is important that these programs, or the other government services they rely on, be stable to help them get back on their feet.
"The victims and survivors who live in these situations, especially the victims of economic abuse, or the perpetrator was the only breadwinner who really relied on these programs to settle in and out of the water during that they were building a new life, "she said.
A woman enters a payday loan business in Brandon, Missouri on May 12, 2017.
Earlier this week, programs that distribute food and provide health care to Native Americans said they needed to cut back on their services because underfunded programs were not receiving money at the closure.
"Aboriginal life should not be endangered because of disagreements over unrelated budget proposals," said Kerry Hawk Lessard, executive director of Native American Lifelines, a Baltimore health care provider. the Natural Resources Committee of the House on Tuesday.
The USDA said it had been able to provide more administrative money to tribes and states so that food distribution programs on Indian reserves could run up to the time of the day. end of February and food deliveries are expected to continue until March.
A homeless person sleeps under a sign indicating the exit of the White House at the McPherson Square metro station in Washington on December 12, 2018.
People using food stamps are expected to receive the normal amount of their benefits on January 20, but they will have to last until the end of February. The USDA has not announced how it will handle food stamps, also known as the Additional Nutritional Assistance Program.
The agency says that other nutrition programs have enough money to keep running for a limited time. According to the USDA, the Women, Infants and Children program can be operational until the end of February. Nutrition programs for children, such as the reimbursement of lunch and school meals, are fully funded until the end of March.
"At the behest of President Trump, the USDA is working with the administration to find solutions, within the confines of the law, to ensure that low-income families have access to our educational programs. Nutritional assistance for as long as possible, "said a spokesman for the USDA. in a statement to ABC News.
"We understand that the current lack of appropriations creates uncertainty for the future, but we continue to hope that Congress will soon adopt an appropriation act that the President can sign so that we can resume our normal activities. and continue our efforts to "do the right thing. Feed everyone. "
But people living below the poverty line or dependent on federally funded food and housing programs are not the only ones to be made more vulnerable during closure.
Collins studies consumer finance, focusing specifically on low-income families. He added that such a closure did not only concern hundreds of thousands of unpaid federal workers, but also economically vulnerable people who live from one paycheck to the other.
Surveys conducted by the PEW Charitable Trusts show that about 40% of American families do not have enough savings to cover urgent expenses such as unexpected medical bills or rent payments if they are temporarily without income. . Collins said most of these people will have to borrow money or rely on friends and family to make ends meet, and even if they are repaid, they may not be able to recover the cost of late payments. , lower credit scores or interest from temporary options such as troubleshooting. loans.
Collins said the country has a system to provide services to these people if they are out of work during a recession, but not during an "episodic" period such as a closure where workers are not paid, entrepreneurs are without work or small businesses see a sudden drop in customer base.
"When bad things happen to families trying to respect the rules, they do not have much at the moment, we have food aid, we have some medical assistance, you know we have a little bit of of things here and there, "said Collins.
"And you pull that carpet underneath and there's nothing but you know the charities, the friends and the family, and I do not know if it's a sufficient system to be able to meet the needs Millions of low-income families, you know, remember too, that most of these income families have children, so you know disproportionately the children who are affected here. "