2018-2019 Shutdown: What You Need to Know
Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid
NOTE: This page will continue to be updated as the shutdown continues and Iowa Legal Aid obtains new information.
The United States federal government is currently experiencing the longest partial shutdown to date. You may have heard a lot of information about how that may affect a program or benefit that you depend on for food, shelter, safety, or income. Here are the facts about what may happen while the shutdown continues. If you are having problems because a benefit you depend on has been stopped, delayed, or reduced, or have been threatened with eviction due to a missed rental assistance payment, you can contact Iowa Legal Aid to see if you are eligible for assistance (see below).
Some Benefits Are Not Affected By the Shutdown
Some federal benefits should not be affected by the shutdown, at least in the next few months. These include:
- Social Security
- Social Security Disability (SSD)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
Food Assistance (SNAP), WIC, FIP, and Child Care Assistance are Affected By the Shutdown
Many Iowans rely on SNAP benefits to make sure they have enough to eat. At the time that this article is written, the State of Iowa has enough funding to cover one more SNAP payment for February 2019. This payment will be made early - possibly as early as Thursday January 17, 2019. If you receive SNAP, you will not get another payment in February, so plan your purchases to make sure that you have enough until March!
There is also enough funding for one more month of WIC, a benefit that helps pregnant and new mothers. We do not yet know if this payment will be made early as well.
At the time this is written, FIP will be paid through March 31, 2019.
Finally, child care assistance will be paid through April 30, 2019.
Section 8, USDA, and Other Rental Assistance May be Affected by the Shutdown
If you receive financial help to pay your rent, you may or may not have shutdown-related problems, depending on the program and where you live.
- "Project Based" – This is a type of rent assistance that is tied to the place where you live. Most project based rental assistance in Iowa will be fine for the next few months. However, some projects did not have their contracts renewed with HUD before the shut down, or have renewal dates in February. The landlords will not get any payments from HUD if their contract is not renewed.
- Voucher Based – This is a type of rent assistance that is tied to a voucher that a tenant receives. The vouchers are paid by one of Iowa's many public housing authorities. Each housing authority has a different level of reserve money they have saved, so the situation will be different depending on what part of the state a tenant may live in. Some housing authorities may have no reserves. Iowa Legal Aid is currently reaching out to most of the housing authorities to better understand what may happen, and will update this page as we know more.
- USDA – Some rural housing is covered by USDA. We do not yet know how this will be affected by the shutdown.
Iowa Legal Aid Provides Legal Help to Low-Income Iowans
To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:call 800-532-1275.
- Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161 or apply online at iowalegalaid.org
- If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website iowabar.org. A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice.