January 28, 2019
Scott L. Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412
ELLICOTT CITY – As federal employees head back to work following a history-making 35-day government shutdown, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has directed county departments to continue the special programs and services put into place to assist them. An estimated 19,500 federal workers reside in Howard County and including contractors, approximately 11 percent of Howard County workers were directly impacted by the shutdown.
“Just because these people are going back to work doesn’t mean their suffering has stopped,” said Ball. “They missed two paychecks and it will take them a while to get caught up and back on their feet. Combine that with the added anxiety that another shutdown is possible in just three weeks and you can understand the terrible predicament facing these hard-working public servants.”
To assist the furloughed workers, Ball directed the Department of Community Resources and Services (DCRS) to provide a weekly special food distribution for those employees and contractors impacted by the shutdown. Last week, 83 families received supplemental groceries and produce along with snack packs for their children. An additional 21 families received $35 grocery gift cards to assist them with purchases. While the weekly food distributions will end, families with continuing needs should contact DCRS directly at 410-313-6400, or the Howard County Food Bank at 410-313-6185.
During the shutdown, the Howard County Food Bank reported it served an additional 25 families. In the first few hours after the launch of a social media video appeal ( https://bit.ly/2RR51yJ ), the Food Bank reported 13 donations totaling $1,300 to assist impacted families.
Ball also ordered a moratorium on residential water shutoffs for those struggling to pay bills without a paycheck. The Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks established alternative payment schedules for fees for recreational programs and access to facilities.
Between January 7 and January 27, the Howard County Public School System processed 365 applications for free and reduced-price meals. That is twice the amount it would normally process in a similar period when the government is operating.
The Howard County Library System suspended library fines and fees during the shutdown. Howard Community College offered one-on-one counseling through its enrollment office to ensure students there could continue their studies uninterrupted.