On October 1st, our Federal government closed its doors, causing hardship on many residents across the state. We take a look at how the shutdown impacted people in regards to our focus areas of housing, healthy food access, and community business.
First time homebuyers were among the hardest hit by the effects of the government shutdown on the real estate industry. Many of the resources that provided them the ability to purchase a home were no longer available. The USDA loan program was nearly frozen as the Department of Agriculture had shuttered its mortgage division during the shutdown. Although the Federal Housing Administration was still operational, it had drastically reduced its staff, causing significant delays in the loan approval process. And since the IRS was non-operational, it could not verify tax documents associated to conventional, FHA, or other loans, causing many real estate deals to be delayed or in some circumstances, to dissolve all together.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
According to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), WIC provides services to 125,000 mothers and young children in South Carolina. After receiving notification that the WIC program was considered “non-essential” under the shutdown and would no longer receive federal funding, SC DHEC announced that the program would no longer offer food benefits after October 15. This news was detrimental to low-income communities whose residents are often reliant on WIC and federal assistance to provide nutritional food for their children.
Small Business Loans
Our nations’ history is rich with entrepreneurship; owning your own business is part of the American dream. However, the government shutdown caused many start-up businesses to put their dream on hold, and prohibited existing businesses from expansion. The U.S. Small Business Administration is the primary source of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, and counseling for small businesses. But on October 1, the SBA closed its doors and ceased providing services.
The Domino Effect
One thing leads to another. And that is exactly what happened with furloughed federal employees who faced unexpected hardships. Missing paychecks hindered the ability to pay their rent and mortgage, as well as other living expenses. The ability to purchase food for their families was limited, and non-essential spending was all but eliminated.
If you think that the federal government shutdown didn’t impact your community, remember the low-income mothers who rely on federal assistance to feed their children. Think about the entrepreneur who was about to open a store that not only would have provided a place to purchase healthy foods close to home, but economic opportunities to your community. And don’t forget your neighbor, who without a steady income, is about to lose her home.
Earlier this morning, President Obama signed a bill that ended the 16-day government shutdown. Now we wait to see if there will be any permanent damage to our financial and supportive services that our communities rely on.