The government shutdown has affected countless families and small businesses in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. As the President and Congress continue to fight over a resolution, it is the country’s citizens — particularly D.C. and its surrounding communities — that are hit the most.
The District of Columbia is the only U.S. city that’s barred from using its own funding for city services, because the city is considered a federal agency during the shutdown.
“The shutdown is crazy! It makes no economic sense. It’s a drag on the local and national economy. It creates uncertainty for investment, and has an adverse impact on people’s lives,” said Robert Corbitt, Jr., a federal contractor and Northwest D.C. resident.
The legislative stalemate has a direct influence on small businesses in the D.C. area because many furloughed workers are patrons of locally-owned establishments, or are family members of employees. Others heavily rely on federal contracts.
Arianne Bennett, CEO and President of Amsterdam Falafelshop in Adams Morgan, said the first few days of the shutdown had a positive affect on business, because they’re in a residential neighborhood.
“We’re receiving a lot of foot traffic from furloughed workers who would otherwise be at work. We’re an affordable place to eat during the shutdown,” said Bennett. “I think small restaurants and businesses that are downtown and close to the government buildings are the most impacted by the shutdown.”
Dana Marlowe of Accessibility Partners — located just outside of D.C. — says her company depends on government contracts with agencies that have been deemed non-essential.
“We work with numerous agencies to make their content and services available to people with disabilities,” Marlowe said. “We've received notice that we might not be paid for our services, or our contracts are temporarily suspended. While we are still open for business, our government prevents our services from reaching those who truly need it.”
Marlowe states that her company is committed to making sure their target population is not forgotten. “We have kept our lines of communication open as a hotline for questions and answers on how to transition, when offices like Medicare, HUD, and the Department of Justice are either defunded or experiencing delays,” she added. “We are here to provide advice and answers for anything disability and accessibility related.”
Other businesses like Columbia Pike Town & Country Animal Hospitals, are offering discounted or free services for federal workers during this unsettling time. “Many of our customers, and spouses of staff, are affected by the government shutdown either as federal employees or contractors,” said Marketing Director Monica Devlin.
“We are offering free pet exams for furloughed government workers as a small way to help clients maintain the health of their pet with the loss of regular paychecks.”
One thing is for certain: If the government doesn’t come up with a solution soon, it could have severe repercussions for more than just D.C. metro residents and small businesses.