By Danelle Woodman
Since the start of the New Year, stories of American families directly affected by the shutdown were highlighted on NPR radio, news broadcasting stations, and social media. As the shutdown turned from a few days to several weeks, these families found themselves choosing between paying rent and buying groceries. Locally, families who needed assistance were met with community programs that were ready to provide them with the services they needed.
“We have extended our services to families affected by the shutdown, and we’ve extended those services beyond the shutdown because it might take time to adjust,” Raina Martinez, development director of Foothill Unity stated following the end of the shutdown. She said that Foothill Unity did notice an increase in families who came in to receive services, but that it was not a significant increase. Martinez further said that all of their services—grocery food services, health services, and case management—will be available for anyone who is in need of them.
According to California Sciences, after Congress passed three spending bills for the 2019 fiscal year in December, President Trump threatened to veto future spending bills if they did not include additional spending measure for border security and a $5 billion wall along the Mexican border. As a result, approximately 380,000,000 workers were on furlough (temporarily on leave without pay) and 420,000 were working without a paycheck. By Jan. 25, 2019, a deal was negotiated to end the shutdown temporarily so that government workers and their families could receive a paycheck. Regardless, Martinez says that Foothill Unity will always be prepared if government workers need extra help during this period. “We want to make sure the community knows that we’re here to support the family in whatever crisis they are in,” Martinez said.
Congressional leaders and President Trump have until Feb. 15 to devise a new plan in regards to the wall and border security. According to USA Today, it’s too soon to say whether or not Democrats and Republicans will come to a compromise at the end of the 21-day period. Meanwhile, President Trump still has the option to use executive action to direct funds toward the building of the wall at the southern border. However, on Jan. 25, he stated that he hopes it is an unnecessary course of action.
Although the uncertainty of the next three weeks might leave government workers uneasy, Washington is optimistic that this respite will allow them the opportunity to pay bills, feed their families, and catch their breath.