Shutdown halts help for public housing residents
the closure of eight other federal agencies, is the result of a standoff between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump over allocating $5.7 billion for the president’s proposed border wall.
After 21 days — now tied with one other as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history –there is no sign of a settlement.
Vanessa Franklin, 62, lives in the federally subsidized Barbour Gardens apartments in the North End of Hartford. She uses a bottle of bleach to ward off mice, and like many others in the 84-unit complex, her home is contaminated with mold.
Franklin has been waiting for the results of a HUD quality assurance inspection performed in October. But because of the federal government shutdown, she has not received a score from HUD that could potentially allow her home to receive remediation. Since the shutdown began, HUD employees have been furloughed and health and safety inspections have been halted.
Franklin, who has lived in the Barbour Gardens apartments for 21 years, said her daughter has been hospitalized twice for respiratory issues from the mold in the building.
Cori Mackey, the executive director of the social justice organization Christian Activities Council, described the conditions at Barbour Gardens as horrific, saying the complex is riddled with mold, rotting floorboards, leaks, and rodent and roach infestations.
In some units, the conditions of some children living with acute respiratory issues are being exacerbated by the mold, and the owner can be required to put those families in another property, Mackey added.
“But it requires a HUD inspection and so those inspections are on hold because of the shutdown,” Mackey said. “And so these kids continue to live in this environment.”
Payday came and went without pay on Friday for Rob Curnan and 261 other corrections officers at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, as the federal shutdown that started Dec. 22 marked 21 days — matching the nation’s longest government shutdown, from December 1995 to January 1996.
“People are worried,” said Curnan, a union executive vice president at the prison. “They are saying this could last months or years. We have a lot of single-income employees.”
It’s little solace for now that both houses of Congress passed resolutions saying the roughly 800,000 affected federal employees — some on furlough, some forced to work with deferred pay — will eventually receive back pay. On top of money woes, the officers worry about the reaction of inmates in the mediumsecurity prison as the prison employees are forced to work without pay.
“Inmates know this. They look to take advantage,” Curnan said. “We are looking for increased violence.”
Concern, anger and frustration mounted in every corner of the country Friday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., went home with no end to the standoff in sight. President Donald Trump, holding out for $5.7 billion for a wall on the U.S.Mexico border, appeared willing, some would say even eager, to see the outage of all non-essential federal services last for months.
Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both D-Conn., did what they could to support federal employees at Tweed-New Haven Airport and brewers in Bloomfield unable to gain licenses to expand.
“We will keep working to reopen the government,” Blumenthal said, but Congress has made little progress.
Jorge Perez, commissioner of the state Department of Banking, issued
Community organizer Tieasha Gayle speaks to Barbour Gardens tenants this week in Hartford.