PARK HILLS, MO (KFVS) - The government shutdown is hurting local families, especially as colder months approach because it could lead to gas and electric shutoffs for low-income families.
People who need help paying their energy bills first have to contact the social security office. However, because of the shutdown, the doors of the social security office are closed.
The East Missouri Action Agency helps low-income families get the assistance they need.
"We do want to help," Steven Brewen, community resource development specialist, said. "That's the business we are in is helping low-income people. We are just not able to."
Brewen says since the shutdown, some people can't get the help.
"When those folks are not able to get that assistance, which they have not been able to due to the shutdown because they need to go to places like the social security office to get disability proof and social security proof and they can't get their hands on that money," Brewen said. "They're facing shut offs and that makes their lives increasingly harder."
Last year, more than 147,000 families got help paying their heating bills. In order to get that help, you need proof of income from the social security office then you are to take that proof to local agencies.
One mother of three says her family counts on this assistance.
"The thought of losing your house, your energy, food, anything, is devastating especially when you have three kids. I don't just have three kids, I have three sick kids who need assistance from the government," she said.
Brewen says if the shutdown lasts unto the winter months, things will only get worse for low-income families.
"The government shutdown is handcuffing them and backing them into a corner, further than they were backed in the first place and its keeping agencies like ours from doing what we need to do to move those people up and out of poverty," Brewen said.
Brewen says come the end of October, more programs will also be affected, including Head Start.