Photo of the Capitol with a banner reading "closed."

The latest partial shutdown of the U.S. government has been putting many people on edge. Workers in the affected agencies are worrying about how to pay their bills as they either work without pay until an agreement to end the shutdown is reached, or they remain furloughed until there is an end in sight. The shutdown has also been affecting people who use other government-run institutions; the District, for example, is getting hit hard by closures at the Smithsonian and the National Zoo.     

The biggest issue for the District during the shutdown should be its poor; many who depend on government assistance may find the help they need in danger if the shutdown lasts past January. 

Families receiving help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will get their January funds, but it’s unclear what will happen past then. Funds for programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will only operate with available funds. Programs that fund school breakfasts and lunches will be continuing into February. Plus, if the shutdown continues, there could be delays in people receiving their tax refunds—a big blow to many low-income people. 

If you are going to be affected by the shutdown, how can you get help? The first thing to do is determine whether your employment is affected by the shutdown either directly or indirectly. If your employer has a substantial number of customers that are employed by one of the affected agencies, you should start looking for additional work immediately to protect yourself in the event that your employer has to reduce your hours or lay off employees due to a reduction in revenue.  

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