America is currently facing the first government shutdown in 17 years. According to CBS, about 800 thousand workers are jobless, veterans’ disability claims will not be decided and national parks are closed as a result of a shutdown.
The government shutdown is already affecting people right here in West Virginia.
“My job is half federally funded and half funded by state,” said WV Resident Brittany McIntosh. “I am a state employee the does all my work for a federal agency. I am lucky to still be receiving a pay check however i am forced to move my office 20 miles away to a state building since my usual federal office is shutdown. i am banned from working on any federal work–everything I do.”
“My husband, Greg, was injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in August of 2010, which caused him to be given a disability rating percentage high enough to be medically retired from the Marine Corps, with retirement benefits,” explained WV Resident Megan Shafer. “He is currently working in the oilfield, but nothing too strenuous. With his retirement pay and his oilfield pay, it’s as if we live in a 2 income household. Since he’s gotten out of the military I decided to go back to school and finish up my bachelor’s degree at WVU. My plan was to not work while in school and to focus on my studies and grades since we have that 2 income scenario at the moment, but we have been informed by the VA that November 1st retirement benefits will be discontinued because the VA will run out of money. In this case, I will need to begin working while in school so that we can cover all of our expenses. Also, Greg was recently accepted into WVU to begin his bachelors degree in January on the GI Bill that he earned during his enlistment and that will also be discontinued and he will not be allowed to go to college if the government shutdown is still in affect because we can not afford to send him ourselves.”
So how is the shutdown affecting nonprofit organizations? Federal-Grant Recipients may find themselves in a tough spot. The Corporation for National and Community Service which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to nonprofits announced they will operate with 72 full-time employees as opposed to their normal 610-member staff due to the shutdown. In addition, the corporation will only support programs that are exempt from the budge impasse such as the National Civilian Community Corps, Vista antipoverty work, and FEMA corps. Nonprofits who already have grants will not be affected immediately, but no new grants will be given at this time.
Gail Cormier, Executive Director at North Carolina United Families, says her nonprofit is already feeling the impact.
“We have been impacted by not being able to gain access to NIH,” explains Cormier. “In addition we can not process our SAMHSA billing. Therefore our small non -profit is going to have to wait for $30,000 to be processed and reimbursed. That outstanding debt can have a big impact on my agency and my staff and how we function.”
Aaron Palmer says his nonprofit research institution here in Morgantown is experiencing similar problems.
“Working for a non-profit research institution we have been impacted in a number of ways, primarily gaining access to NIH, which has been shut down due to the lapse in the federal budget,” explained Palmer. “Grant submissions are due October 5th. The NIH web site says transactions may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.”
Many national nonprofit programs such as Meals on Wheels could be affected after just one week of the shutdown.
One of the immediate effects of the shutdown may be staff numbers. With delayed payments from the government affecting the amount of income the organization receives, many nonprofits will be forced to lay off their employees. This is a problem, because as nonprofits are forced to lay off staff, the demand for services will grow. As services grow, the budget will be depleted if no new money is coming in. Payments aren’t only delayed or nonexistent to nonprofits, but to American citizens, especially government employees. Programs providing food stamps, housing and veteran’s services will cease. Thus, the need for nonprofits will be greater than it already is.