As we write this, we are in day 34 of the Federal Government shutdown. This is uncharted territory for our nation and there are a lot of questions people have and a host of emerging needs that our neighbors are experiencing. Just a few hours ago President Trump announced a temporary re-opening of the federal government, this is not a permanent decision and requires us all to continue to share resources as they're made available. We hope that the information below is helpful to those impacted. We will continue to share as it's made available to us.
I'm a Federal Employee And Need To Find Help
United Way's NC 2-1-1 is a statewide resource that connects people to the health and human resources they need. By simply dialing 2-1-1, callers can speak 24/7/365 to one of our information and referral specialists who are highly trained and have access to information about thousands of resources across our state.
Our team understands that federal employees and contractors that are impacted by this shutdown are in a very unique and difficult position. They have jobs, they are just not being paid. And so many programs that are based on income are not available to them right away. We understand that this can be very frustrating.
The important thing to remember at a time like this is that our referral specialists get regular updates on changes in programs and availability. Our statewide team has access to information about services currently available to those impacted by the shutdown - this information includes national, statewide and local. So the most important thing we want the community to know is that a "no" today does not mean a "no" forever. Checking back regularly with our 2-1-1 staff is a smart thing to do and our team is adept at problem solving with our callers.
I'm not a federal employee, but I'm worried about my federal benefits
We cannot speak generally to the timing and availability of federal benefits, yet 2-1-1 does receive these updates as they're made available, so again they are your most up-to-date resource regarding this information. For example, Buncombe County Health and Human Services recently announced that those receiving SNAP Benefits, will have access to their February funds as of January 20, 2019.
WNC Relief Efforts
- MANNA Foodbank, ABCCM, and Green Opportunities are a few of the local organizations providing community assistance programs.
- Please call 2-1-1 to learn more about their initiatives and how they can be of support to you.
While it's encouraging to hear that action steps have been taken to remedy this situation, it's important for us all to remember to stay engaged and involved in our local community efforts to assist in relief efforts at all times.
- Contact the White House. Dial 202-456-1111 and let the President know how this is affecting you and your community.
- Call your U.S. Senators. Find their contact information from the list of senators here or dial the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected with the Senators from your state.
- Volunteer with MANNA Foodbank and support their ongoing efforts in providing assistance to those facing food insecurity to those in our community.
- Volunteer with ABCCM Crisis Ministry and support their work in supporting those facing homelessness in our community.
- Find a varitey of additional volunteer opportunities to get involved with in supporting community outreach and assistance through our volunteer center Hands On Asheville-Buncombe.
- Tell a friend or neighbor about 2-1-1 as a 24 hour/day, 7 days/week service available to anyone in need of locating and accessing free resources available in their area.
United Way Worldwide has shared two responses to the shutdown:
- First - they've been assembling a coalition of corporate partners to address the impact on those affected. You can read the full press release about the United for U.S. Coalition here, but a few examples include:
Wells Fargo pledged $250,000 in grant support to help federal employees meet their most basic needs: food, bill assistance, shelter etc., in addition to waiving fees for customers who have direct deposit from the federal government, and offering short and long-term assistance for those who need extra time to make payments.
Lyft is working in the Washington, D.C. area — home to 300,000 federal workers — to provide financial support, including donating food to local food banks.
- Second, United Way Worldwide has established the United for U.S. Fund to benefit federal workers, contractors and others who may be impacted by the ongoing government shutdown. The United for U.S. Fund is an expansion of the United for U.S. Coalition, which was launched recently to bring together corporate partners, organized labor, the United Way network and other nonprofits to assist furloughed federal workers and others who are struggling during the ongoing government shutdown. The United for U.S. Fund will distribute 100 percent of individual donations to local United Ways that serve communities with a large percentage of federal workers, contractors and others who may be impacted by the government shutdown to address vital needs, including food, rent and mortgage payments, and other basic expenses.
Those who would like to donate are encouraged to Text SHUTDOWN to 40403 to donate or visit unitedway.org/unitedforusfund Read this press release here.