As we head into the fifth week of the longest shutdown in US history, Texan communities are feeling its devastating effects. Low income residents, TSA workers, NASA employees, and small businesses are just some of the casualties of Trump’s irresponsible shutdown.
Below are links and excerpts to stories of the overwhelming impacts of the shutdown across the state of Texas:
The shutdown has brought work at HUD and eight other departments across the federal government to a screeching halt, freezing important government services in both rural and urban areas. At the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has a sizeable rural housing arm, the employees who annually approve thousands of low-interest loans for hopeful homeowners without access to other financing have been furloughed.
…“We are seriously concerned … it’s driving housing industry segments to a halt,” said David Lipsetz, CEO of the Housing Assistance Council, based in Washington, D.C. “Even more important, it is affecting thousands and thousands of families a month to have these programs shut down.
National low-income housing advocates have been sounding the alarm that the partial government shutdown, which is now the longest in U.S. history, could lead to evictions for thousands of tenants.
According to HUD records and conversations with property managers, at least three buildings in Austin housing roughly 170 tenants are functioning without federal funding because their contracts could not be renewed.
…People who receive housing choice vouchers, commonly known as Section 8 vouchers, could be affected more immediately. Low-income families in the program pay only 30 percent of their income in rent to private landlords; federal subsidies make up the rest. In Austin, roughly 5,200 families use vouchers.
The Housing Authority of the City of Austin, or HACA, said if the shutdown continues, the federal funding they use to subsidize these rents will run out.
As the government shutdown approached its fifth week and Washington Democrats and President Donald Trump showed no signs of coming to an agreement on how to end the stalemate Tuesday, U.S. Border Patrol vehicles could be seen patrolling just north of the Rio Grande near El Paso’s Paso del Norte bridge.
…But despite the feeling of normalcy, a current Department of Homeland Security agent who previously worked for the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection said the federal employees on the front line of the national immigration battle are beginning to feel the strains of the impasse.
“Morale is definitely low [inside the department]. But I can’t imagine how it is at the bridge,” said the agent, who spoke to The Texas Tribune on condition of anonymity because he’s not authorized to speak to reporters. “These guys are still working overtime … and they’re not getting paychecks. They’re working 16-hour shifts, then they go home and have to stress about the bills.
Thursday marks Day 20 of the government shutdown, and there’s no end in sight as President Donald Trump arrives in South Texas to try to build support for his planned border wall, the catalyst for the shutdown and a project that most Americans overwhelmingly oppose, according to recent polls.
…Many Texans who were affected by Hurricane Harvey are still waiting for federal aid, and the shutdown won’t make it any easier to get that aid. According to Houston Public Media, Harris County is putting a hold on Harvey recovery projects that relied in part on federal money.
…Another example of the shutdown making an already bad situation worse is immigration court, where immigration cases continue to backlog. There are currently more than 119,000 backlogged cases in Texas alone, according to the most recent data from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse research center, and the shutdown is forcing the delay of more cases than usual because immigration judges have been furloughed.
…One of the most visible impacts of the government shutdown nationwide is the heaps of garbage and actual poop piling up in our national parks. Texas has sixteen sites controlled by the National Park Service, and while these sites have remained open throughout the shutdown they have not been fully staffed, as employees have been furloughed.
A security checkpoint inside the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston closed Sunday evening due to “staffing issues associated with the partial shutdown of the federal government.”
…Close to 51,000 TSA agents are working without pay or on furlough. On Friday, TSA Administrator David Pekoske announced all TSA employees who worked December 22 — the last day in that pay period — would receive pay for the day by Tuesday. Officers who worked during the holiday travel season will also see $500 in bonuses.
It’s bad news if your trying to start a business during the shutdown because the Small Business Administration is not processing loans or issuing certifications. Companies that are already working for the government won’t be paid for their work until the shutdown to find out if they got the job.
A lot of businesses do not operate with month and months of cash on hand they operate with either lines of credit or they operate with tighter levels of cash on hand if their business depends on government contracting and they’re not getting payed that means their employees may not get payed and consequently you’re going to start to see after some period of time of a shutdown some level of business failures and closures,” said Beto Pallares a Professor in the Department of Finance at NMSU, Entrepreneur and Investor.
Union employees at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston are expected on Tuesday to protest the partial government shutdown that has kept them out of work for more than three weeks.
…Furloughed and unpaid federal employees will rally to protest the continuing shutdown and resulting furloughs that are financially hurting 800,000 federal employees and families,” the group said in a news release.
Most of the 3,055 people who work at NASA’s Houston center as well as 16,700 NASA employees nationwide do not know when they will go back to work.
…There are roughly 200 federal employees still working at Johnson to ensure the safety of the people onboard the ISS.
…”For our people, for our engineers, our scientists, some of the best scientists and engineers in the country, their interest is performing their work,” Shearon said. “This whole political facade that is being put up is simply encumbering their ability to get their job.”