City Paper is keeping track of the big federally funded programs in D.C., and their plans in light of the ongoing government shutdown—when they’re going to run out of money and how they plan to make up the difference.
Laura Zeilinger, director of the D.C. Department of Health and Human Services, sums up the state of affairs: “Being an agency that is a social safety net and really aims at ensuring people are able to meet basic needs of their families, we are both ready and eager to serve residents but also extremely concerned about the very real and painful impact that this disaster has on residents here.”
We’ve started with three major programs. We’ll update the article as we learn about the state of other programs and departments.
DC Housing Authority
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has already paid the DC Housing Authority its “standard monthly payment” for January, a DCHA press release published in early January says, and has scheduled a February payment for release on Feb. 1. Because of the partial federal government shutdown, DCHA has set aside money from its reserves “to operate through March.” For March, DCHA has earmarked about $8 million for public housing operations and $16 million for Housing Choice Voucher Program reimbursements.
HCVP is a federally funded voucher program that subsidizes rental units on the private market, which recipients must find themselves. There are 10,500 families in D.C. that rely on this program, and DCHA’s reimbursements can run up to $130 million annually. —Morgan Baskin
The District will commit $2 million in additional funds next month to continue the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the mayor announced Tuesday. About 110,000 city residents benefit from SNAP, according to the mayor’s office, with an average family receiving about $220 in food benefits each month.
While the federal government has covered SNAP participants for the month of February, the extra District funds will cover new SNAP applicants and people recertifying their eligibility. “We expect to see an increase in applicants” due to the downstream economic effects of the shut down on residents, says Zeilinger. What remains unclear is if the feds would cover SNAP benefits for March, should the shutdown last that long. —Cuneyt Dil
Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families benefits are being paid on time, as the program is already funded through a federal grant, Zeilinger says. “We do not foresee an issue in paying TANF benefits,” she says.
D.C. already budgets more for TANF than the feds, providing additional benefits and eligibility for residents through local tax dollars. “[TANF] is not subject to the same shift that SNAP is, which is good for households that receive both,” Zeilinger says. —Cuneyt Dil
The District combines local dollars with federal funding through the Head Start program to provide early childhood learning opportunities for kids from birth to five years old. Pat Fisher, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says the programs are fully funded through September 2019 and does not anticipate any disruption in services.
The Head Start program funds seven entities in D.C., totaling about $3.2 million in fiscal year 2019, Fisher writes via email. About 3,500 children and families benefit from these programs. —Mitch Ryals