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Shriver Center Urges Congress to Re-Open Government, Fund Critical Services for People Living in Poverty & Other Vulnerable Americans

January 8, 2018

Contact: Ishena Robinson
(P) 312-549-9879

Shriver Center Urges Congress to Re-Open Government, Fund Critical Services for People Living in Poverty & Other Vulnerable Americans

CHICAGO—Federal programs that provide basic assistance and essential services for millions of people and families across America are at risk as a result of the government shutdown, which is now entering its third week. The most vulnerable communities in America will be the first to bear the brunt of the consequences of this damaging shut-down, and people living in poverty are forecasted to have difficulty accessing housing, food, and other critical supports should the shutdown continue into February:

  • As a result of the shut-down, Congress has not allocated sufficient funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beyond January. If leaders in Washington, D.C. do not act responsibly and end this continuing crisis, 38 million low-income Americans stand to lose the food benefits under SNAP that they depend on to feed themselves and their families. The federally-funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides lifesaving nutrition for mothers and young children, is also in jeopardy.
  • Putting the safety of millions of families at risk, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is not carrying out mandatory health and safety inspections of housing for low-income families, people with disabilities, and the elderly due to HUD employees being furloughed as a result of the shutdown. This disruption of critical HUD operations has also put in limbo access to affordable housing for low-income families under the project-based Section 8 program.
  • The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has expired without being reauthorized by Congress. Though the legislation is still in effect, programs under VAWA that are vital to survivors of sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other forms of gender-based violence are without the federal funds necessary for their survival.
  • 800,000 federal employees, including those who live paycheck to paycheck like millions of Americans, are now left in an economically precarious position and are going without pay as a result of the shutdown. 

The government has a responsibility to serve the well-being of the people it governs. The welfare of our nation’s most vulnerable should not be held hostage to the creation of a non-essential "wall" to keep out immigrants seeking opportunities in America, a proposal that is largely based on racism and xenophobia rather than fact-based policy.

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law calls on Congress and the President to resolve this untenable situation by re-opening the government and passing a budget that funds programs critical to people living in poverty and to the entire country.


The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s legal aid providers to advance justice and opportunity for their clients.

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