Official: Shutdown threatening state jobs, rent and heat assistance

By 
Michael Norton, State House News Service
Oct. 10, 2013

A top Patrick administration official on Thursday warned of “dire consequences” from the partial federal government shutdown, which is in its tenth day.

“Thousands of state employees will be facing furloughs or layoffs and dozens of programs for low-income families, seniors and veterans will soon run out of funding,” State Undersecretary of Housing and Economic Development Aaron Gornstein said during a Boston Foundation forum on housing issues.

Starting Nov. 1, Gornstein said, the state will also not be able to provide heating assistance to 200,000 households, will not be able to make rent payments for 20,000 low-income households receiving Section 8 assistance, and 35 home projects with 1,500 units of affordable housing will be delayed.

Gornstein called Nov. 1 the “turning point” when people will actually be denied benefits.

“We need the [temporary spending bill] to pass as quickly as possible,” he said. “It was cold last night at my house. And if you are a senior citizen relying on fuel assistance it’s going to be tough come November 1 if you’re not able to get heat.”

President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have not reached a deal in recent days to provide funding for government operations and the U.S. faces the possibility of defaulting on its debt next week unless an accord is reached over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

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