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Government shutdown could curtail New Yorkers’ Section 8 vouchers, other programs

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“On the 27th day of the Trump shutdown, I cannot promise we’ll be okay,” said the mayor.

The New York City Housing Authority’s Ingersoll Houses in Fort Greene.
a katz / Shutterstock.com

Two million New Yorkers stand to lose access to a slew of federally-funded government programs, including Section 8 vouchers if the historic government shutdown continues into March.

Some 18,000 federal employees and their families in New York are already feeling the pinch of the longest running government shutdown in U.S. history, but those who rely on programs such as food stamps, Section 8, and support from a handful of city institutions will miss out on $500 million monthly if the shutdown continues past February, according to the de Blasio administration.

“On the 27th day of the Trump shutdown, I cannot promise we’ll be okay,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “We’ll continue to do what we can and fight in Washington, but one thing is clear: this Trump shutdown must end today—our people are counting on a functional government.”

President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats remain in a stalemate over border security as the government shutdown likely stretches into another week. Several government agencies (such as the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Labor) are funded through September 30, but other crucial agencies—including Homeland Security, Justice, and Agriculture—are forced to limit their staff, with 10,000 agency employees salaries at risk due to the shutdown.

NYCHA and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development spent $97 million and $34 million in federal funds per month devoted to Section 8, with more than 280,000 New Yorkers utilizing the rental assistance program, says City Hall.

Other programs crucial for struggling families, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), are at risk. The city released recipients’ February benefits starting today rather than next month, but the release of March benefits is up in the air.

Some national parks have shuttered due to the shutdown, but New York State is paying $65,000 per a day to keep the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open. It’s unclear if the state will seek reimbursement once the shutdown ends.

Other historical sites and museums across the city run by National Parks are closed, including the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the African Burial Ground, Federal Hall, the Hamilton Grange Memorial, General Grant N. Memorial, and Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace.