Colorado supports families impacted by government shutdown

Written by: Beza Taddess
Date Posted: January 18, 2019

Today marks day 28 of the federal government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history. For more than 220,000 Colorado families this means losses in steady income and potential cuts to programs that families rely on for health and economic stability. In Denver alone, the government shutdown may prevent 40,000 residents from accessing food. According to The Denver Post, the shutdown could cost the state up to $201 million per month.

Thankfully, advocates and state agencies are acting quickly on behalf of Colorado families. Last week the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) shared their plan for early issuances of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for next month. CDHS sent early issuances to their vendors on Jan. 15, and February benefits are available to SNAP recipients Jan. 16 to Jan. 20. New SNAP applications processed after Jan 15. but before Jan. 30 will get their January and February benefits. CDHS has also provided suggested talking points for SNAP advocates who need assistance in communicating details regarding early issuance and the government shutdown. Food stamps will continue to be accepted by retailers during the shutdown.

In addition to state advocates, Colorado businesses are also doing their part to help Colorado federal employees. These businesses across the state are offering free meals, waiving late fees, or connecting employees to other resources such as health care, childcare and mental health resources.

Although state advocates and businesses are working to ensure families do not experience disruption of programs and services, there are several agency programs ranging from food inspections to health services that have already been drastically reduced or are threatened. This means programs that are critical to maintaining the health and well-being of families, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), are at serious risk of benefit cuts if the shutdown continues. The shutdown is already impacting access to health services for some Native American tribes and destabilizing access to health care providers.

The shutdown also has significant short- and long-term financial impact for families. Beyond the day-to-day cost of living expenses, federal employees are experiencing difficulties submitting mortgage and rent payments on time. With the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) operating with limited staff, loans may be delayed, which will leave buyers unable to complete their transactions. Zillow estimates that as many as 39,000 mortgages could be affected. This will have the greatest impact on lower-income families, as many of these buyers use FHA-insured loans. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has also been hit hard by the shutdown. Federal contracts for more than 1,000 government-funded properties that house low-income renters have expired, and hundreds more could expire in the next few months if the shutdown continues. This causes delays of critical housing repairs, and places low-income families at risk of eviction.

We simply cannot maintain the health and well-being of fellow Coloradans without stable housing, food and medical care. We encourage individuals and families to contact their local agencies for more support and information regarding benefits.

Call your senator at 202-224-3121 and tell them to open the government.

For information and resources in Spanish from our partners at Hunger Free Colorado click here.

Beza Taddess

About Beza Taddess

Beza Taddess is the Communications and Policy Fellow for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Beza supports the organization’s communications and outreach efforts and is here at the Children’s Campaign as part of the Public Interest Fellowship Program. She graduated from Colorado College in May of 2015 with a degree in sociology.