Shutdown halts help for pub­lic hous­ing res­i­dents

Stamford Advocate - - News - By Ana Rade­lat and Clarice Sil­ber

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.

Brew­ing frus­tra­tion

Jorge Perez, com­mis­sioner of the state De­part­ment of Bank­ing, issued

Clarice Sil­ber /

Com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer Tieasha Gayle speaks to Bar­bour Gar­dens ten­ants this week in Hartford.

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