Government Shutdown Threatens Section 8 and Food Stamps

As we enter day 19 of the government shutdown, the ripple effects are growing across the country, with 800,000 government workers going without pay. Affected agencies are operating with skeleton crews, and that spells trouble for people counting on tax refunds and government benefits that require people in the office — and funds — to administer.

For two extremely successful government programs that help lift people out of poverty and address basic needs, this reckoning may be especially soon. And it may not come as a surprise that the Trump administration was unaware of these potential consequences of the shutdown – something the president appears determined to prolong to advance his political agenda, even at the expense of suffering Americans.

One is the housing choice program, sometimes known as Section 8, which provides financial assistance that allows low-income renters access to a greater array of housing options. The program uses vouchers to make up the difference between what renters can afford and what’s available.

While tenants who use vouchers often face discrimination, and the waitlists are sometimes long, millions of people across the U.S. count on vouchers to help them access housing.

The funding for those vouchers is running dry, though — and by February, neither the federal government nor local agencies will be able to provide financial support to tenants.

That could lead, some say, to “millions” of evictions from unsympathetic landlords. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has already warned landlords that there may be trouble in the future — but with the shutdown dragging on and no clear end in sight, landlords may not be interested in waiting.

Ninety-five percent of HUD personnel are out on unpaid furlough, with the remaining 5 percent remaining on staff to handle emergency issues. With each day of the shutdown, HUD gets further behind not just on vouchers, but also on vital programs designed to improve housing safety, affordability and accessibility.

The other problem is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — also known as food stamps — which provides financial help to nearly 40 million hungry Americans. The Department of Agriculture has nearly run out of funding for the program. The government just announced that it had funds through February, but SNAP could be forced to dip into reserves in March. The USDA is tightlipped on what kind of money might be available via that route.

Like HUD, the Department of Agriculture has nearly ground to a halt as a result of this funding battle. But while SNAP is classified as a mandatory entitlement program that will continue to run even when the administering agency is technically closed, Congress still has to fund it. This is usually a pro forma activity that involves little controversy, but in the Trump era, the status quo is never simple, making it critical to definitively resolve the funding fight.

The dangers of allowing this funding to expire can’t be overstated. Millions of people count on these programs for housing and food security, and the stress already caused by the government could result in life-altering disruptions if Congress and the White House fail to reach a deal.

Call your lawmakers to tell them you want a deal now: And that deal had better not include wasting billions on a racist, ineffectual, environmentally harmful wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Photo credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images

87 comments

Karen Swenson
Karen Swenson5 months ago

Merle Auck--The wall is the dumbest, most idiotic moronic idea Trump has had yet, and that is saying a lot! Walls are Ancient and never WORK! Experts who actually know about Walls, NOT contractors, say this stupid wall will cost about 50 billion and it will cause flooding, and environmental damage, plus a butt load of other disastrous things. Wall experts have no political agenda. We have drones now able to lift 496lbs and will carry a person over the wall, as they now do with drugs. Or as our brilliant president says--just a ladder and a rope! There are explosives, concrete saws, torches, and so on. If people can escape from a prison with walls/razor wire and guards watching night and day--24/7--good luck on Trumps wall! We need to seriously go after the Companies who knowingly hire these illegal aliens, and round up the many, many who have overstayed their visits and send them home. Government data shows monthly crossings along the border are dramatically lower than they were years ago.

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Merle A
Merle Auck6 months ago

By the number of people that are afffected by this shut-down needing public tax payer assistance, the need for a wall is even more apparent. If we think this shut down is bad, wait until we truly run out of money and the American citizens cannot give up anymore of their income to further taxation to support these programs. It seems like we have so many who need assistance now, and if allow more individuals into our country who also need all these tax payer funded assistance programs, our country will shut down. This shut down will not be a political motivated event, but a more devastating situation only seen since the Great Depression! Good luck and God Bless!

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Janis K
Janis K6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Kay M
Kay M6 months ago

Good afternoon - thank you for this article - WE NEED ALL OF OUR CONGRESS MEMBERS AND SENATORS TO JOIN TOGETHER ---AND STAND UP TO THE PUTIN PUPPET POTUS----baby tantrum trump- TELL HIM NO ON THE CONTINUATION OF SHUTDOWN - YOU ALL HAVE THE POWER TO OVER RIDE HIM AND GET THE GOVERNMENT OPEN- GET EVERYONE BACK TO WORK- GET EVERYONE PAID- GET THEM FOOD- MEDICINE- HOUSING-ETC--- NO MORE MONEY FOR HIS BORDER LIE- HE HAS NOT SPENT THE MONEY YET THAT WE GAVE HIM LAST TIME HE ASKED FOR MONEY - WE HAVE ALREADY APPROVED BILLIONS AND HE AND THE GOVERNMENT HAVE ONLY SPENT A FRACTION- THEY ARE USING MOST TO STEAL KIDS FROM THEIR FAMILIES AT THE BORDER AND PUT THEM INTO DETENTION CAMPS RUN FOR PROFIT BY TRUMP'S FRIENDS - HE EVEN HAS HIS MARGO LAGRO BUDDIES RUNNING THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION---THIS HAS GOT TO STOP----NOW NOT LATER PEOPLE ARE DYING BECAUSE OF HIM AND DUMB WOMAN KIRSTON - GET A BACK BONE AND DO YOUR JOB P-REPRESENT US THE AMERICAN CITIZENS THAT VOTED YOU ALL INTO OFFICE - WE CAN AND WILL VOTE YOU OUT AT THE NEXT ELECTION AND HIRE NEW REPS AND SENATORS sincerely KAY M

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Melanie St. Germaine

Trumpty is crazy!!

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Leo C
Leo Custer6 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Karen Swenson
Karen Swenson6 months ago

OH COME ON, Just ask all these people affected by the shut-down and they will tell you they just LOVE IT and are constantly telling their Pinocchio President to keep going with this shut-down, so says the biggest liar in history. If anyone is expecting compassion from this brainless moron and his band of nit-wits, I have news for you. as long as they get theirs, it's "Thoughts and Prayers for you!"

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Pam Bruce
Pam Bruce6 months ago

The shut down is hurting everyone. And not just the people but the wild lands. End this now. No wall.

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Lisa M
Lisa M6 months ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M6 months ago

Thanks.

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