GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - We took to the modern day version of the water cooler, aka the WOOD TV8 Facebook page, to find out how the first federal government shutdown in 17 years is affecting you.
Some, like Jeff Johnson, wondered what all the fuss is about:
"The roads are still there, work is still there, and life continues. Military will still get paid as well as 'essential' employees. Funny, if they're 'non-essential' perhaps we should get rid of them," reads Johnson's post.
Others, like Marty Kruizenga, expressed a more 'throw the bums out' opinion"
"I wish we could just fire the whole Government. None of us would getaway with what they are doing. They don't do anything that is good for the people anyway it all for them. Fire them all from top to bottom, that's how I feel," Kruizenga wrote.
The bottom line is that the shutdown is having a ripple effect that is hitting West Michigan.
The Area Community Services Employment and Training Council, or ACSET for short, provides a variety of services for over 5,000 clients in Kent County, from helping people keep their heat and other utilities on to feeding the elderly.
Much of that is paid for by a federal grant program. With the shutdown in effect, about $1.5 million in expected funding isn't there.
Several programs like emergency assistance to keep down-and-out people from losing their homes and the winter weatherization program, which helps seal homes from the soon-to-be-here cold weather, aren't available.
Client Linda Stewart doesn't drive and is looking for work. She gets back and forth to interviews thanks to the program's transportation services.
"Now I've got to struggle with trying to get there and I don't know how it's going to come out," said Stewart, who also volunteers as a receptionist at ACSET -- and that was a tough job Tuesday.
"It also affects me to sit at the front desk and work the phones and also to greet clients that need services here and there's nothing I can do," Stewart said.
ACSET's executive director Jacob Maas also had the task of informing 11 agency employees that for now, they're off the job. That's half his community action staff.
"Eleven staff have 11 families. So these are very tough decisions that had to be made for the organization," he said.
He doesn't know how long it will be before he can bring those employees back.
"There's a lot of uncertainty," Maas said. "This could be two days. It could be two weeks. It could be two months."
Like many, Maas is pointing his frustrations in Washington's direction.
"It feels like they're children many times," Maas said. "It seems like there's no one negotiating involved, no compromise."
Other agencies are being impacted, too. The closure of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is one of the more visible casualties. And anyone buying a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) house may be affected.
A list of affected West Michigan agencies, facilities and organizations
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