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  • Writer's pictureJim Strawn

Shutdown’s Pain Cuts Deep for the Homeless and Other Vulnerable Americans

From: NY Times

By: Glenn Thrush

This article by Glenn Thrush appeared in the NY Times on Monday, January 21, 2019.

The Federal shutdown is hurting America's most vulnerable.

Ramona Wormley-Mitsis got welcome news in December: After years of waiting, the federal government had approved a subsidy that allowed her to rent a three-bedroom house, bracketed by a white picket fence to keep her two autistic sons from bolting into traffic.

A few days later, the dream was deferred. The Department of Housing and Urban Development — one of the federal agencies hit hardest by the shutdown — would not be able to pay her new landlord until the government reopened.

“It is my dream home. It’s like my last stop; it’s like my last chance — you know?” said Ms. Wormley-Mitsis, 39, who lives in Fall River, Mass., and is staying with relatives until the check clears. “We drive by that house all the time. It’s torture. Waiting, waiting, waiting.”

One month after the government shutdown began, its effects have begun to hurt some of the most vulnerable Americans: not just homeless people, but also those who are one crisis away from the streets. And nonprofit groups dedicated to helping low-income renters are already scrambling to survive without the lifeblood payments from HUD that began being cut off on Jan. 1.

That has left a small but growing number of tenants, like Ms. Wormley-Mitsis, in limbo. Landlords, especially smaller management companies operating on narrow margins, have begun pressuring poor, disabled and elderly tenants who cannot afford to make up the difference.

On Friday afternoon, a TriState Management employee in Newton, Ark., taped notices on the doors of 43 federally subsidized tenants, demanding that they cover the gap between what they typically pay and the full rent.

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