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Amarillo leaders plan for continuing government shutdown

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AMARILLO - We've completed day eight of the government shutdown and the Amarillo City Commission sat down to talk about city programs that could be in jeopardy.

Several programs and services offered by the city are only possible with federal funding. Right now all those programs are funded until at least the end of this month, but if the shutdown continues several could be halted.

City transit, the WIC nutrition program for single mothers and infants, and housing aid are the three main services that could suffer if the government shutdown continues. "Everything looks okay right now. We don't want to project what the future will be but we have to be concerned," Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole said.

Harpole and the rest of the city commission are now making plans in case the shutdown extends past the end of this month. "Fortunately we're a fiscally well-run city with reserves. It's a time when we'll look to those reserves to help with these things. It just can't go on forever," Harpole said.

So far no city program is shut down by the federal slow down, but with government offices closed some city offices are backing up from the lack of federal inspections, approvals and information. For instance right now the city wants to build 13 new Habitat for Humanity homes in some empty lots in southeast Amarillo, but they need approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and right now that office is closed.

"It has caused a couple disruptions. We don't have our HUD staff to ask when we have questions, so we're having to do a lot more research in order to help our local community," Director of Amarillo community development office James Allen said.

Right now the community development office is assisting about 1,400 families with housing needs. Those projects are already funded and will continue, but since the office relies on HUD for everything they do, it's unclear what future projects could be halted.

"We're going to do our very best to make sure our clients in the city of Amarillo don't feel that trickle down," Allen said.

HUD projects in Amarillo and the city transit are funded for the next two months and the WIC program until the end of October.

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