Government Shutdown Threatens Section 8 and Food Stamps

As we enter day 21 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…

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