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Government Shutdown Affecting Our House Employees

The partial government shutdown in Washington D.C. affects hundreds of state employees in Arkansas. But also those who have dedicated one year to public service assisting the working homeless.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The partial government shutdown in Washington D.C. affects hundreds of state employees in Arkansas.  But also those who have dedicated one year to public service assisting the working homeless.

The beds at Our House shelter in Little Rock sat empty Tuesday afternoon.  The residents all at work or school.

But the employees, already earning at the federal poverty level, will see their pay fall even farther.

Our House employs Visitors in Service To America or VISTA.

Wendy Dwyer is a VISTA who arrived in Arkansas from Oregon just six weeks ago.

"I didn't think it (shutdown) was going to happen," Dwyer says.  "I thought it was on those threats that would never come through, but then it did."

Dwyer and ten other VISTA earn approximately $11,000 a year in the form of a stipend paid entirely by the federal government.  That stipend is not coming with a government shutdown.

Georgia Mjarten is executive director at Our House.  She says the decision in Washington to shutdown has devastating effects for Arkansans in need.

"When the federal government doesn't follow through on their promise to provide a living stipend so that our service members can give to the homeless, I think that message is a message that really lets a lot of young people down," Mjartan says.

Mjartan says the community they serve will now need to help in order to keep Our House going at full strength.

"We need them (VISTA) but right now they need us," Mjartan says.

Mjartan is asking for any kind of donation to assist Our House VISTA members, including gas cards or gift cards for groceries.  For more information contact Our House directly.
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