As the government shutdown enters its 24th day, the effects are starting to be felt by the 420,000 federal employees working without pay and the 380,000 federal employees who have been furloughed. Last week, thousands of federal employees missed their first paychecks of 2019. Just as significant, during shutdown, janitors, security guards, and other federal contractors receive no back pay.

In response, United Way of Greater New Bedford and its community partners are preparing for an expected uptick in calls to 2-1-1 from those seeking assistance with rent and mortgage payments, utility bills and groceries.

“United Way and Mass 2-1-1 are committed to helping our communities impacted by the federal government shutdown,” said Paul Mina, President and CEO of Mass2-1-1.  “Furloughed federal employees and government contractors in need of social services and individuals with questions about the availability of public benefits can call 2-1-1 to get help.

Mass 2-1-1the Commonwealth’s 3-digit non-emergency hotline service will anchor United Way’s community support by providing information about local social services, including the availability of public benefits and corporate assistance programs. Mass 2-1-1 specialists can help those in need connect to food pantries, health care services and utility and eviction prevention assistance. Callers also can receive information on mental health counseling, transportation, job training, substance use recovery services, child care and volunteer opportunities.

Mass 2-1-1 is a free, confidential referral and information service that connects people from all communities to a specialist who can help find local health and human services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week answering calls in over 140 languages.  For more information visit www.Mass211.org

-- United Way of Greater New Bedford