Local charities could be overwhelmed by government shutdown - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Local charities could be overwhelmed by government shutdown

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Depending on how long the shutdown actually lasts, there could be serious consequences for those who are most in need already.  

People who depend on the government for food and healthcare referrals may seen those benefits lapse, or stop altogether, and that will have a ripple effect on locally run agencies already struggling to help the needy.

The state Department of health and Human Services has furloughed 337 workers in North Carolina, but beyond the paycheck, the DHHS also says benefits for needy families could take the biggest hit.

It's not just a Washington problem.  Now those who can least afford it might suffer in the wake of a government shutdown.

"I wouldn't know how I was going to eat from day to day and that's the only income that I have is food stamps, it's a struggle out here," a client at Rowan Helping Ministries in Salisbury told WBTV.

The government says food stamps are guaranteed through October, but an ongoing shutdown could cause delays.  But other programs meant to help the poor will be affected.  

According to DHHS, inspection of some licensed healthcare facilities will cease, North Carolina's TANF program that gives temporary assistance to needy families will start to run out, as will the child care development fund, and the WIC, that's the nutrition program for women, infant, and children, will shut down this month according to DHHS.

It serves 264,000 women, infants, and children every month.  

"They sitting up there arguing about stuff that don't even make sense and we have to suffer," the woman added.

And if all that help dries up, where will people go?

"We're going to see more people coming to us in financial crisis," said Kimberly Collins of Rowan Helping Ministries.

Many are likely to places like Rowan Helping Ministries, already struggling to meet needs because of this area's unemployment rate.

"We're already in a time of need, you look at our shelves and you see that we're out of canned meats, we're low on soup, cereals and things, but given however long the government shutdown is going to take place, we're going to need volunteers that can step forward to step up and help us get through, this and we're going to need more donations from our community for people in need who are just now finding themselves there," Collins added.

There have also been questions concerning benefits for veterans.  One local vet told WBTV on Wednesday afternoon that the had not received his disability paycheck, and was told he may not receive a check until 2014 due to the shutdown.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has said that claims processors are still on the job and that there should not be any disruptions this week, but admitted that the agency will run out of money for disability and pension checks around the end of October unless the shutdown is resolved.  

Veteran's healthcare benefits will not be impacted since that department operates under an advance two year appropriation, according to the Veteran's Administration.

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