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Thousands at risk of homelessness as government shutdown continues

AP image US Capitol Congress House Senate
Posted at 5:59 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-26 19:23:42-05

TEMPE, AZ — The government shutdown is putting some Valley residents in a dire situation.

Officials at the City of Tempe say more than 1,000 households rely on federal funding to pay rent every month. One of those residents is Jack Drummond.

"I have emphysema now and spinal damage from a rollover several years ago," Drummond said. "I'm just not able to work."

He says without federal funding, he'd be homeless. He's now preparing for that worst case scenario.

"Think about what I'd store, what I'd give away, what I'd throw away," Drummond said of his preparations as the government shutdown approaches its fourth week.

Drummond receives money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has been closed since December and rent for him and thousands across the country is only paid through February.

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell says the city is putting a contingency plan together to help residents like Drummond. He says the concern goes beyond housing.

"Also it's going to impact food stamps, otherwise known as the SNAP program," Mitchell said.

The city's street car project also relies on federal funds. Mitchell says construction, for now, continues.

"That's something that could be an issue for us," Mitchell said. "We're assessing that now, but it's not impacting us immediately."

But for now, he says, the biggest focus is on food and housing.

City leaders say if the shutdown continues, they'll be planning public meetings with landlords and tenants starting the end of this month into the beginning of February. For more information, go to tempe.gov/housing.

If you have concerns or questions, you can always contact your city's housing department.