As furloughed federal workers across the country and across Seattle continue to be hurt by President Donald Trump’s partial shutdown of the federal government, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan issued a new Executive Order to help impacted federal employees with their utility payments.
The partial shutdown began on December 22, 2018 and is now in its 32nd day. According to an analysis by Governing Magazine, the State of Washington has over 54,000 federal employees. Approximately 11,000 of them work in agencies currently without appropriations and are being directly impacted by the shutdown by working without pay or being furloughed.
Nationally, it is estimated that 800,000 federal employees across the country are working without pay or are currently on furlough.
Mayor Durkan’s Executive Order (EO) builds on existing City assistance programs. The EO directs Seattle City Light (SCL), Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), the City Budget Office (CBO), and the Human Services Department (HSD) to immediately develop a plan to offer deferral of utility bill payments to federal employees and community members who have been negatively impacted by the federal government partial shutdown.
“Every day that the crisis of the government shutdown continues, public servants in Seattle are forced to live without knowing if they can provide for their families – and Seattle is put at risk by the lack of federal services that we rely on, from earthquake monitoring to the Coast Guard to affordable housing support,” said Mayor Durkan. “We are acting urgently to help support Seattle families being hurt by the Trump shutdown. But to truly help families and help Seattle, we need the White House to re-open the federal government today.”
The four City departments will develop their plan for initial execution by this Friday, January 25. The program will include a phone number for impacted residents to call for eligibility information and enrollment.
The shutdown continues to threaten our most vulnerable residents throughout Seattle, the Puget Sound, and Washington State. The shutdown is impacting nutrition assistance programs, TSA agents, federal grant programs, and earthquake monitoring capabilities in the Northwest.
Federal offices in and around Seattle where federal employees are either furloughed or are working without pay include:
· NOAA’s Western Regional Center in Sand Point
· NOAA’s Seattle Forecast Office
· NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center & Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Montlake
· NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Sand Point
· The Federal Detention Center in SeaTac
· U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington
· Seattle Immigration Court
· EPA’s Pacific Northwest Regional Office
· Federal Trade Commission’s Northwest Regional Office
· U.S. Coast Guard Base Seattle
· TSA & FAA Employees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
· HUD’s Seattle Regional Office
· USGS Earthquake Hazards Seattle Field Office
· Small Business Administration’s Seattle Office
· Seattle’s IRS Service Center
The City of Seattle has several ongoing programs to ensure that residents are able to afford basic services such as water, sewer, garbage, and electricity. The City’s Utility Discount Program offers reductions on Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities bills to income eligible customers. Through Project Share, City of Seattle customers can set up individual payment plans and deferrals during times of financial hardship. The program is funded by donations from City of Seattle customers.