JANUARY 14, 2018 — As the government shutdown enters its 24th day, the effects are starting to be felt by the 420,000 federal employees working without pay and the 380,000 federal employees who have been furloughed. Last week, thousands of federal employees missed their first paychecks of 2019. Just as significant, during shutdown, janitors, security guards, and other federal contractors receive no back pay.
In response, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (UWMBMV) and its community partners are preparing for an expected uptick in calls to 2-1-1 from those seeking assistance with rent and mortgage payments, utility bills and groceries. United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley also stands ready to provide emergency financial assistance to federal workers who are impacted through its Family Fund. United Way’s Family Fund provides flexible funding to over a dozen community-based organizations across the region to help individuals and families meet their basic needs.
“United Way and Mass 2-1-1 are committed to helping our communities impacted by the federal government shutdown,” said Michael K. Durkin, president and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Furloughed federal employees and government contractors in need of social services and individuals with questions about availability of public benefits can call 2-1-1 to get help. In addition, United Way’s Family Fund is a resource to provide emergency financial assistance to impacted workers for basic needs such as food, heat and housing.”
The Mass 2-1-1 non-emergency service will anchor United Way’s community support by providing information about local social services, including the availability of public benefits and corporate assistance programs. Mass 2-1-1 specialists can help those in need connect to food pantries, health care services and utility and eviction prevention assistance. Callers also can receive information on mental health counseling, transportation, job training, substance use recovery services, child care and volunteer opportunities. Additional information about unemployment benefits for furloughed employees is available from OPM. Click here for details.
Mass 2-1-1 is a free, confidential referral and information service that connects people from all communities to a specialist who can help find local health and human services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information visit www.Mass211.org.
At a national level, United Way Worldwide announced Friday that it will lead the formation of the United for U.S. coalition, a joint effort by corporate partners, organized labor, the United Way network and nonprofits to assist furloughed federal workers and others impacted by the ongoing government shutdown. United for U.S. will address these needs by bringing together United Way’s deep community knowledge with organized labor and our corporate partners who want to help those in need during the extended shutdown.
“No organization is better positioned than United Way to bring critical resources together for those who need help. Our reach into every U.S. community and our deep relationships with all sectors allow us to create the safety net that will assist our neighbors maintain the fabric of our communities,” said Mary Sellers, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide. “We are thankful for the support of our corporate partners, organized labor and local United Ways, who stand ready to provide vital services to those in need.”
Wells Fargo and Bank of America are two of United Way’s closest corporate partners offering support to those affected. Wells Fargo will waive fees for customers who have direct deposit from the federal government, or at the customer’s request, and will offer short and long-term assistance for those who need extra time to make payments. Bank of America is offering personalized financial assistance through its Client Assistance Program. United Way is inviting other corporate partners to join the coalition’s efforts. For more information, please contact Joe Sousa.