How Will the Government Shutdown Affect Bushwick

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Photo from the Bushwick Daily Archives

The government’s budget deadline has passed, the Senate and the House were not able to agree on a spending bill because of last-ditch attempts by critics of the Affordable Care Act in the House who voted to defund the program, and the United States is going into federal government shutdown starting this morning. Here are some of the ways this will be affecting us in Bushwick:

According to the United States Office of Personnel Management’s report (cited by Mike Riggs in a story on the Atlantic) there were more than 50,000 federal workers in the Tri-state area in the 2012 fiscal year–that’s equivalent to approximately a third of the population of Bushwick, and twice as many people as are employed by J.P. Morgan Chase, which is the largest non-government employer in New York City. In anticipation of a possible shutdown, federal agencies have identified which workers can be considered nonessential–more than 800,000 people in total, across the country–and those workers will be furloughed until the government can figure its stuff out. We’re guessing you might have a neighbor or two who will be home on unpaid leave starting today.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees affordable mortgages nationwide, has a contingency plan because it’s trying to ensure the stability of the housing market–but it’s limited. This is not a great time to be in the middle of the application process for an underwritten mortgage. You’re not likely to make much headway on a small business loan, either.

If you receive government benefits like Medicare, Medicaid, or food stamps, you’re going to be okay for the time being, although you should do your best to hold onto your social security and medicare cards, because the Social Security administration isn’t going to be able to replace them until this gets resolved. Unfortunately, new applicants for those services can expect the application process to slow to a crawl while this is going on–and while veterans whose health care coverage is straightforward will continue to be covered during the shutdown, but vets who are appealing the denial of disability benefits won’t be able to have their appeals addressed until after this whole thing gets figured out (although it’s not like they were exactly rushing that process before the shutdown went into effect).

Prisons, the National Security Agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration and most of the rest of the Department of Justice will still be operating— and while the IRS is suspending tax audits, they’re also suspending taxpayer services, so don’t expect it to be easy to figure out where the hell your refund went.

If you have friends from out of town who were waiting to visit you until they could check out the Statue of Liberty, which was closed for 9 months after Hurricane Sandy last year, they’re going to have to wait–she will not be accepting visitors until this mess gets sorted out. Ditto for National Museum of the American Indian and Ellis Island (although, speaking of immigration-related things, it seems like green card application processing services are not on the chopping block for the moment, although they’ll probably slow down). Bushwick may not be home to any national parks, but the closing of those monuments, especially at the beginning of the school year in prime field trip season, seems especially sad to us.

You’ll still get your mail. NASA is going to be very bare-bones (even though it has its 55th birthday today). Tian Tian the Panda at the National Zoo in DC is still going to be getting his bamboo, even if he won’t have any visitors.

….and if you can still bear to look at a computer screen with stuff on it about the US government and have a hankering for health care, the Health Insurance Marketplace site is now live. Take a look–we think you’ll appreciate being able to see why we’ve bothered with any of this stuff.

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