Mass. lawmakers, businesses step up for furloughed federal workers
Providing everything from zero-interest loans to free meals, food
WHILE WASHINGTON and the Trump administration continue their disastrous handling of the federal government’s partial shutdown, legislators, municipalities, and businesses across the Commonwealth are searching for short-term solutions to the financial plight of the impacted workers.
As we enter day 35, many of the 47,000 federal employees living in Massachusetts are feeling the strain. Gov. Charlie Baker is readying a presentation to lawmakers on how his administration can assist the unemployed workers struggling to pay rent and mortgages. House Speaker Robert DeLeo is on board and Senate President Karen Spilka announced a bipartisan eight-member Senate working group to evaluate any proposals.
“What we’ve been working on most is trying to figure out how to make the unemployment insurance system support these folks,” Baker told reporters. “Our goal is to have some thoughts about how to do that that we could talk to the Legislature about next week.”
As workers miss their second paycheck today, local banks are stepping in to offer zero-interest loans. The list of banking organizations includes Eastern Bank, City of Boston Credit Union, Congressional Federal Credit Union, Hanscom Federal Credit Union, Navy Federal Credit Union and Service Credit Union are among many banking organizations making this pitch.
Restaurants are providing free or reduced-price food. Ola Café in East Somerville is offering full breakfast and lunch as well as a full espresso menu. Eater Boston has an exhaustive list of restaurants offering deals for workers who show government ID. Boston chefs are joining acclaimed chef Jose Andres and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen in an effort called #ChefsForFeds that serves meals to furloughed employees.Furloughed workers are also turning to food pantries. Holy Tabernacle Church in Dorchester runs a food pantry that furloughed workers are using and the Greater Boston Food Bank shipped groceries to 800 Coast Guard personnel on the Cape deemed essential but unpaid. In Devens, where almost 500 employees work in a federal prison, FMC-Devens, Loaves and Fishes is inviting the furloughed employees to stop by its food pantry.
Furloughed employees also need to look good, so Lauren Craig Salon in Wayland is offering free cuts and blow drys.