Unpaid US federal workers are asking for donations to survive through the shutdown

Who pays?
Who pays?
Image: AP Photo/Matt Rourke
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Some US federal workers affected by the government shutdown are resorting to crowdfunding to cover basic expenses, from mortgages to food.

About 800,000 workers have gone without pay for 19 days, after Donald Trump and Congressional Democrats failed to reach a deal on a new spending bill. The president is demanding funding for a border wall between the US and Mexico, but Democrats are refusing because they say it’s unnecessary.

While they wait for the two parties to sort out their disagreement, about 1,000 federal workers and their families have started campaigns on the popular crowdfunding platform GoFundMe. As of Jan. 9, they had collectively raised more than $100,000, according to the site.

Many of the furloughed employees are asking for small amounts. Tyler Fralia, federal worker from Ogden, Utah, needs $4,000 to buy diapers and formula for his five-month-old baby. “I had some savings, but it was recently depleted because I had to replace the bald tires on my car this last month,” he writes in his GoFundMe post. He’s received just over $3,000.

Others are finding they need significantly more to keep afloat. For instance, Tina Gonzalez-Poole, from Hackettstown, New Jersey, recently bought a house with her new husband, a veteran and Federal Aviation Administration employee, according to her post. After covering the home’s mortgage and other bills, the couple was left with only a few hundred dollars to pay for living expenses, according to Gonzalez-Poole. She’s asking for $10,000 to take care of her family, which includes one daughter.

“Most American households live paycheck to paycheck,” she wrote. “How are we to live with absolutely no income? What are we to do?”

For thousands of contractors, the situation is even worse: Unlike employees, they will not receive back pay even once the government is back in full service, because they won’t be able to bill for the work days they lost. Julie Burr, a contract government worker and single mother of two children, hasn’t been able to claim payment for the last days she worked before the shutdown, as no one is available to process her invoices.

“I’m losing pay every day that this government shutdown continues,” wrote the Kansas City, Missouri resident. “I’ve taken on extra shifts at my 2nd job but it isn’t going to pay rent and all my bills.”

She requested $5,000, but has so far raised over $10,000.