D.C. Housing Authority headquarters, on North Capitol Street.
D.C. Housing Authority headquarters, on North Capitol Street.

The shutdown clock is at T-minus eight hours, and counting. The District plans to continue paying for its operations out of its contingency fund, and Congress seems inclined to let it. But what of D.C. functions whose funding source is the federal government itself—-say, the D.C. Housing Authority?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funds and oversees the Housing Authority, will send most of its workers home in the event of a shutdown, and will stop sending payments to local housing authorities. But the authorities can continue to operate with whatever remaining funds they have.

D.C. Housing Authority Executive Director Adrienne Todman sent out a couple of tweets today reassuring public housing tenants that their landlord would be open for business tomorrow—-and hinting at the major problems that would arise if it closed.

But how long will the Housing Authority remain operational if the feds insist on an extended vacation? According to Housing Authority spokesman Rick White, there are no guarantees past one month.

“We have been reassured by HUD that they have the legal and funding authority to fund our programs and services through October 31, 2013,” White says in an email. “We’re unclear about what happens on November 1, however. We’ve received no guidance from HUD concerning operations starting November 1.”

In other words, as long as this shutdown isn’t longer than the ones in 1995 and 1996, which totaled 28 days, we should be OK. Then again, given this Congress’ track record, that may turn out to be a higher bar than we think.

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