East Tennessee nonprofits could be affected if government shutdown drags on

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Day 19 of the government shutdown and with negotiations still stalled, local non-profits are eyeing what’s next and what it could mean for the services they provide.

Organizations in East Tennessee telling us while there are unknowns, what’s clear is that any challenges that may come up will be happening in a few months.

“People are going to need us for sure,” said Elaine Streno, Executive Director for Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.

Streno says right now the organization is outlining strategies. The federal government plans on providing full benefits for those relying on SNAP, the nation’s food stamp program, for all of February.

One strategy Second Harvest is considering is purchasing more food.

“It’s about a four week process to get the food here. Right now we have plenty of food to distribute to the people who depend on us but over the next few months, we will absolutely have to increase our food supply to distribute to the needy. In March or April, that’s when it will really hit us,” said Streno.

Streno says Second Harvest just ended a successful fundraising campaign; however, if things go on too long they’ll need to rely on donations from the community, “It’s never impacted us like this could.”

At Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation, or KCDC, their primary source of funding is HUD.

“The good news is that most HUD funding is actually a few months into the future. So when the government shuts down in December, that does not immediately affect our funding. We’ve already received funding through the end of February,” said Ben Bentley, KCDC’s CEO.

Bentley says HUD programs allow money to be set aside for times like this, though they’re hoping congress comes to a resolution soon because the Section 8 voucher program is funded annually and that program isn’t allowed to set aside reserves.

“We have funding through the end of February but at that point, we would have to look at what the structure of the program is, how many folks are leased and moving forward, if we didn’t receive additional funding, there could be some challenges,” added Bentley.

We’re told KCDC works with industry organizations at a national level letting congress know about the challenges this shutdown is creating.

“Starting at the end of January, we’ll start notifying and making sure that our residents and our landlords in that program are informed, that they know what’s going on,” said Bentley.

KCDC saying there’s no need for immediate alarm.

One step they suggest you might consider in response to the shutdown is reaching out to your congressman and letting them know about the direct local consequences on your life and your housing.

We also checked with United Way of Greater Knoxville to see if the organization has any concerns.

They tell us they’ve spoken with their partner agencies and right now the government shutdown is not having any immediate impact on resources.

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