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Government Shutdown Hits Homeless Shelters

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A government shutdown could create a huge setback for Minnesotans who are already in need. Funding for some programs that prevent homelessness is no longer available.

People Serving People is an organization that helps the homeless get back into permanent housing. It won’t be directly affected by a government shutdown, but once people leave the shelter, they won’t have the safety net that the government once provided.

It’s moving day at People Serving People.

“It feels wonderful,” said Valencia Matthews, who is moving out of the shelter.

For Valencia Matthews, it marks the start of a new beginning.

“We’ve been here three months now, and it’s been hard to get started on our feet,” said Matthews.

But before the car was even packed, Matthews was already worrying about her future.

“It’s going to be rough,” she said.

A government shutdown has affected the rental assistance she’s relying on to move out of the shelter.

“I really am concerned and worried about everything,” said Matthews.

The same is true for the dozens of other families who have been able to transition from homelessness to housing.

“We will be low on money,” said Tina Sletten, who is moving out of the shelter.

The Slettens had planned on a dual income, but with state funding for child assistance gone, they will rely solely on Joey’s paycheck.

“There’s always a likelihood we come back,” said Joey Sletten.

To keep families from returning to People Serving People, the organization is now asking for donations and for volunteers to babysit, to help ease the financial burden.

“They are finally going out to be on their own, and they’re hitting these roadblocks along the way,” said Amy Jenkins, the director of development at People Serving People.

They are families who face an uncertain future, but are still happy to have made it this far.

“This will be nothing compared to what we’ve been through, before we got here,” said Tina.

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