Housing authority mulls effects of shutdown

Sheri Lee, executive operations officer for the Housing Authority of Glasgow, shared information with the agency's board of directors Thursday on what effect the federal government shutdown might have on federally funded programs the agency manages. Shown from left are Joyce Allen; Lee; Danny Gibson, chairman; and Randle Norris. Also present but not shown were Cindy Rutledge, housing authority employee; and John Rogers, board member. Gina Kinslow / Glasgow Daily Times 

GLASGOW — Federal funds for some programs overseen by the Housing Authority of Glasgow are good through February. 

That's what Sheri Lee, executive operations officer for the housing authority, told the agency's board of directors Thursday.

“We should be OK,” she said. “If something doesn't change, I don't know what's going to happen when it comes to March.”

Lee continued to tell the board that she thought the housing programs would be OK, but that it was the voucher program she that worried her the most.

She explained that the housing authority's reserves for the voucher program were once held locally, but that the U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development now holds them.

A statement posted on HUD's website states the agency is closed due to the shutdown.

“If they are not working, they can't release the money for us to make our HAP (Housing Assistance Payments) since nobody is employed because they are shut down,” she said.

Board member John Rogers asked if HUD was shut down, and Lee replied that parts of the federal agency are closed.

“The financial management center where they do these transactions is out of Kansas City, so I don't know how many of those employees are still working but we're OK and our residents and the rental payments will be OK through the end of February,” Lee said.

After the meeting, Lee said if the federal government continues to be shut down it is possible it may have an effect on the employees that work with the voucher program. The housing authority employs 24 people. Three of which work with the voucher program.

The federal government shutdown is in its fourth week.

Some federal government agencies have been closed since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, 2018.

Some Farm Service Agency offices had been closed due to the shutdown, but a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday stated that many of the offices reopened on Thursday on a temporary basis in order to perform “certain limited services for farmers and ranchers.”

Approximately 2,500 FSA employees were recalled so they may open FSA offices on Thursday, Friday and Tuesday, the press release said.

Almost half of the FSA offices, staff will be available to help with existing farm loans and to ensure the availability of 1099 tax documents to borrowers by the Internal Revenue Service's deadline, the press release said.

An employee at the FSA office in Glasgow referred questions to Brian Lacefield, state executive director for FSA, but an attempt to reach him or anyone with the agency's public affairs division before deadline was unsuccessful.

Mammoth Cave National Park remains closed due to the shutdown and the Green River Ferry located within the national park is not in operation, however, The Lodge at the national park is open, as well as restaurants and gift shops, according to the national park's website. 

Helen Siewers, who is volunteering with the Friends of Mammoth Cave National Park, said Friends of Mammoth Cave National Park continues to empty trash cans and is providing tourist information to visitors at the national park during the shutdown.