While the 35-day shutdown is temporarily over, the challenges experienced by federal workers are still being felt across the nation and even locally. For many federal workers, missing two pay periods while continuing to pay for essentials like childcare, food, rent, utilities, and other needs has exacerbated existing income struggles. While the gap between paychecks was enough to qualify some for monthly food-stamp benefits, workers in the lowest of pay grades will not receive back pay; this includes private contractors who provide needed services like janitorial and maintenance staff.
In addition, the shutdown meant real or possible constrictions on programs providing assistance for poor and low-income families. Those who rely on government services like food subsidies or housing vouchers – or multiple services – are also experiencing difficulties and delays in accessing support.
We’ve reached out to some nonprofit partners to understand what needs have surfaced locally. Below are some organizations that are currently seeing an increased demand for services and support, specifically for food, housing, utilities, and financial services:
- Food Bank for the Heartland: providing food assistance through pantries, including a mobile pantry in Bellevue.
- Heart Ministry Center: providing food and other basic need assistance through pantries.
- Family Housing Advisory Services: providing housing assistance to keep people in their homes.
- Common Fund of the Heartland: works with nonprofit partners to provide utility assistance.
- The Salvation Army: provides seasonal assistance to help families bridge a gap.
- American Red Cross: works with OPPD on their energy assistance program.
Other basic needs assistance
- Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska: working with the Food Bank to provide other services beyond food needs and support for those experiencing mental health issues.
- Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership: provides basic needs such as food, rent/utility assistance, behavioral health services and transportation for adults and families.
If you know of anyone experiencing these challenges, encourage them to call 211 (www.ne211.org), the United Way of the Midlands resource helpline to learn more about resources for food, housing, utilities assistance, and financial services.