PLATTSBURGH — The federal government shutdown does not appear to have had a major impact on the North Country just yet, but some are worried.
“I sincerely hope they come up with a resolution to this before too long because we could be looking at some layoffs if this keeps going,” Bruce Garcia, chief executive officer for the Joint Council For Economic Opportunity in Plattsburgh, said Thursday.
“This could have a significant impact on a lot of people’s lives.”
‘IF IT LINGERS’
Garcia said the shutdown is not affecting any JCEO programs, among them early childhood learning initiative Head Start, because they received an extension on their funding earlier this year that will take their budget through the end of March 2014.
But if the shutdown lingers, it could cause problems, he said.
The JCEO offering he is most worried about is the Community Outreach Program, which is funded by a Community Services Block Grant. Funding is in place now, Garcia said, but it could dwindle fast if the shutdown continues.
The Outreach Program features 11 centers around Clinton County that provide services to the elderly, disabled and low-income families. Food baskets, clothing, assistance in filling out forms for home heating aid and the Christmas Bureau are among the services provided at outreach centers.
“If this goes three or four weeks, it could have an impact on that program,” Garcia said.
The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which provides funding for home heating to those who are income eligible, is not scheduled to start until Nov. 18. If the situation is not settled by then, that funding could be in jeopardy, Garcia said.
“Hopefully, this will be resolved by then, but if not there could be a lot of people with significant problems.”
Not all Head Start programs have the same funding cycle, he added, noting he has heard some beyond the North Country have had to suspend operations.