NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The partial government shutdown has not impacted the federally funded New Brunswick Housing Authority, but that could soon change.
However, if the shutdown lasts to the end of the month, authority employees could be furloughed and hundreds of landlords in New Brunswick and neighboring Franklin Township would fail to receive payments through the section 8 housing subsidy program, said John Clarke, executive director of the housing authority.
"We in unchartered waters here," Clarke said of the current shutdown.
The authority receives funding a month in advance and was given all the funds in late December to cover expenses for January. That includes paychecks for authority employees and section 8 vouchers. The housing authority also manages the public housing programs for Franklin Township.
Clarke said the authority won't know until late January if the funding will be allotted for next month.
He is waiting to see what will happen, or if there will be any notifications from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, Clarke said there has been no information from the federal agency, probably because employees there are not working because of the shutdown.
"We're not sure if there is anybody at HUD to notify us. We're really flying blind," the director said.
There are between 250 and 300 landlords in New Brunswick are receive monthly funds section funds, and another 100 landlords in Franklin Township, and none of them will get paid if the shutdown continues.
About seven or eight city housing authority employees would be furloughed, Clarke said.
He said another six employees, including himself, would continue to work without pay for daily maintenance and emergency management duties.
"It was like during a snowstorm event," Clarke said. He said the authority must still collect payments from people who live in public housing units pay a portion of the rent.
It is uncertain when the partial government shutdown will end. President Donald Trump wants $5 billion included in any spending bill - money to construct a wall to stop immigrants from illegally entering across the United State border with Mexico, and Democrats in Congress refuse to include those funds in any spending package.
Many government workers hit by the shutdown have not been paid. In Edison on Thursday federal workers stage a demonstration, calling for an end to the shutdown. An estimated 800,000 are impacted nationwide. About 420,000 people deemed essential are working without being paid, and the rest have been furloughed.
Clarke said he has been through shutdown previously, but none has lasted this long.