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Government shutdown puts help on hold
KENT COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) The government shutdown is affecting many things. Every one of Americas National Parks and monuments are closed, new applications for small business loans and loan guarantees are at a standstill, hundreds of federal employees will work without pay, while others are on furlough.
However, the post office will continue to deliver mail, air traffic controllers, prison guards and border agents will remain on the job. Social Security checks will still go out and food stamps will still work.
You can find a full list of what is and is not affected here.
Locally, the shutdown is forcing one Kent County agency to turn people who need help away because they simply dont have the funds.
Jacob Maas, the executive director for the Area Community Services Employment and Training Council saw this coming, but had hoped to avoid it.
We started sitting down with the staff over two weeks ago, said Maas.
Maas says on Tuesday he had to lay off eleven of his 21 employees.
It could be two days that theyre laid off, were very hopeful that Congress will come to some agreement on what the budget will look like for the next program year, said Maas, but it could be two months.
Without a continuing resolution, Maas says his agency is out more than two million dollars of its three million dollar budget.
That means they cant offer any of their services to prevent homelessness and theyve had to close their food pantry. That means anyone who came looking for help today was out of luck.
We have to turn them away, thats the honest truth, said Maas. We do not have any funds, we dug under all the mattresses and turned up every stone and the reality is we have very limited funds to meet the need.
It also means that the bus Linda Stewart relied on wont be there for her anymore.
I wont be able to continue my work search on a positive note, said Stewart. I can still email and so on, but how Im going to get there is going to impact my pocket.
While Maas worries about how long this shutdown will last, hes even more worried about what comes next.
Now is almost a premonition as to what might happen when they have to raise the debt ceiling, said Maas, its pretty scary times to work at any federal program.
As for Stewart, she says its time for the government to put people first.
I just wish that Congress would take off the boxing gloves and think of the people, said Stewart, put down their bats, go back to the table and compromise because there are peoples lives at risk.
The agency is still offering some of its services, like meal delivery, but those services come from separate budgets and arent tied to federal funding.