Threat of Another Government Shutdown has Many on Edge

By United Way of King County, on February 12, 2019 | In Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, News

Many of the 800,000 federal employees impacted by the recent government shut down are still on edge. With no final agreement to prevent a repeat shut down soon, we’re reminded about just how vulnerable we all are. How much we rely on that next paycheck.

Vulnerable how?

Contract workers: While it’s great that federal workers received back pay when the government reopened; none of the contract workers did. There’s an estimated 4.1 million people who are employed under federal contract. They went 35 days without working—and without receiving pay. Sure, those 4.1 million people could collect unemployment. But calculating unemployment is complicated and no matter the income you normally make, unemployment doesn’t make up for all of it.

Essential employees: You know who had it especially rough? Those deemed “essential” during the shutdown. Roles like law enforcement officials, federal firefighters, FAA workers and more. They must work their normal (or even increased) shifts during the shutdown, without pay. Still, they still couldn’t collect unemployment. And since they were still working, most didn’t have time to start a side hustle to supplement their non-income. It’s nice to be needed, but this is beyond ridiculous.

More people are living on the edge than we realize: The Federal Reserve Board issued a report that found four out of ten Americans, if faced with an unexpected expense of $400, would not be able to cover it. Maybe medical bills from an injury, an emergency car or home repair, or scraping together rent when your expected paycheck didn’t come through.

In Washington State, evictions can start just three days after missing rent. And that’s not just completely missing your rent—you can be evicted for being short on rent. When the government’s been shutdown more than it’s been open in 2019, it’s hard for a lot of people to come up with full rent amounts… and then what? For people living on the edge, it could easily mean homelessness.

This is just one of the reasons why we’re thrilled to partner with the Seattle Mariners and the King County Bar Association on a new eviction prevention program called Home Base. Learn more about it:

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Do you want to help your neighbors who are living in poverty? Check out the ways we’re supporting families and individuals and trying to break the cycle of poverty.


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