Government shutdown affects some housing loans, programs

Published: Jan. 3, 2019 at 7:21 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - As the partial federal government shutdown continues it could affect several programs in the future and delay some home loans.

For instance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the Women Infants and Children nutrition program, known as WIC, is running at the state and local level with funding left available.

Alabama Arise Policy Analyst Carol Gundlach said eventually this could spell trouble for people in the program.

“These are extremely vulnerable people who are on WIC," said Gundlach. “If pregnant women can’t get the iron rich foods that they need. These could have devastating long-term impacts on people’s health and so I’m very worried about what’s going to happen”

She said WIC is running on state money off-hand and did not know how long the program could sustain with that money. A spokesperson with the Alabama Department of Public Health said Thursday the health care services are functioning as usual right now.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly referred to simply as the food stamp program is not guaranteed funding past January.

“We’re talking the working poor, we’re talking children, we’re talking the elderly and we’re talking people with disabilities,” Gundlach said.

Barry Spear, a spokesperson with the Alabama Department of Human Resources, said SNAP is continuing with business as usual. He recommends people still apply for the nutritional program if they are eligible.

Alabama Arise said many nonprofits provide services to people in Alabama with federal dollars through federal formula grants. Gundlach said many of these grants come from the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, both of which has had an appropriation from congress yet.

This could include domestic violence shelters, sexual assault programs and homeless shelters.

The shutdown could also delay some USDA home loans.

Helga James is a mortgage broker with Barr Group Mortgage and has three clients waiting for approval from the USDA.

“So at this point I’m telling people to expect a February closing instead of a January closing," said James. “Which can cause issues with sellers and people being homeless.”

They can’t get approval right now because part of the USDA is shut down. James said they do not have a way to know how many files USDA will receive during the shutdown and what the backlog could look like.

“And buying a house is the biggest investment most people make in their lives and there is so much other uncertainty that it makes them very nervous,” she said.

There are not many Alabamians who use USDA loans. In 2018 there were more than 1,700 USDA loan approvals in the state according to the Alabama State Banking Department. This number does not include loan approvals from depository institutions, which are financial institutions in the United States that are legally allowed to accept monetary deposits from consumers.

Here is what the USDA says will continue beyond Jan. 1, 2019.

You can see the full list here:

  • Several Child Nutrition Programs continue into February
  • Several inspection services
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service offices will remain open to support conservation technical and financial assistance. 
  • Care for some animals and plants. 

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