CORVALLIS, Ore. — Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are furloughed, and many of them are looking for different work. But the employment department is facing cuts in programs for those who need the most help.
Community Services Consortium (CSC) says roughly half of its $25 million – 30 million agency is federally funded. The CSC is a Community Action Network serving folks in Benton, Lincoln, and Linn counties. The CSC says starting Nov. 1, its federal funds, and it is already making plans to close its Work Force program, which is part of WorkSource Oregon.
“I was part of the trail crew for Crater Lake National Park,” said Todd Benton, a furloughed federal worker. “The last day of work, it was, you know, basically like a hurricane.”
Thousands of employees across the nation, such as Benton, received word Tuesday morning they could not come back to work the next day.
“The way that it has affected me most negatively is that people who do my pay are also on furlough, so the money that I earned two weeks ago I may not get for the next two months,” he said.
Now, Benton is filing for unemployment in Corvallis. The CSC gives folks additional assistance in Benton, Lincoln, and Linn Counties to find work. The Work Force program, a sub-contractor of WorkSource Oregon, matches people who need extra help or who are on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) with training programs, work resources. The program also helps unemployed residents with going back to school.
But there’s a problem. Roughly half of its funding is federal.
“We have to begin to prepare to shut down a number of different programs, and they fall like dominoes,” said Executive Director Martha Lyon with CSC. “Every time the federal government or the state government pulls that fire alarm, we have to prepare to disenfranchise our most needy citizens. And that is unbelievable to me.”
Not only is the CSC making cuts in the Work Force program, but also in its Head Start program. Head Start, a program providing day care for low-income children, also helps families get back on their feet. The organization says it often hires parents to work, and provides kids with daily nutritional meals.
Lyon says 106 children will be turned away starting Nov. 1 from the Head Start program in Lincoln County. She says the organization will still have a facility in Newport, but will close its doors in Toledo and Lincoln City. Lyon says in total, 30 CSC employees have already received layoff notices if the government does not reopen by the end of the month. Lyon says the CSC helps the neediest of people, and she says she is horrified by the local effects of the government shutdown.
“It’s incomprehensible to me,” Lyon said. “If you’re looking at the prosperity; the health; the welfare of a whole community, why would you use these folks to barter with? I don’t understand that at all.”
As for Benton, he says he is looking for work, but he is still on standby if Crater Lake National Park calls him.
“I would have to quit the job that I had just gotten here and go back to Crater Lake for a week or two in order to get my job back next year,” Benton said. “Which would be rather inconvenient.”
The CSC says people can still apply for unemployment at the WorkSource locations in Benton, Lincoln, and Linn Counties. However, if the government is still closed next month, the CSC will not be able to provide the same one-on-one assistance it now provides.