The ongoing federal government shutdown is having an increasing impact on thousands of Oklahomans who are not getting paid and are not getting services. Some of them are finding ways to make ends meet, through the generosity of one business.
Isola Bella Apartments houses about 80 to 100 furloughed federal workers, but since the shutdown started, not one of them has had to worry about rent.
David Coria and his colleagues at the FAA were shocked when they heard their complex would waive their payments throughout the duration of the shutdown.
“Is there a limit” Coria wanted to know. “Two weeks? Three weeks? Four weeks? She goes, ‘don’t worry about it.’”
Not only that, the furloughed workers do not have to pay utilities and the complex already offers them free breakfast and dinner. They make up a tenth of the tenants here, but Isola Bella general manager Kristy Koon felt it was her responsibility to do the right thing.
“Reality is,” she says, “it’s having a negative impact, but on the positive side we’re trying to see how we can do good out of it.”
The deal has freed up funds for Coria to visit his daughter in Texas while he waits, but he says many of his colleagues have gone home for good.
“You can only do it for so long, just eating and living,” he admits. “You get stir crazy.”
Other employees who are not getting paid are facing more severe challenges.
Enedina Banks says her brother Jaime Cervantes also works for the FAA, but the Navy veteran is now looking for a second job just to provide for his three children.
“It’s sad because he has a master’s degree,” Banks comments.
As tribal members, Banks and her family are also seeing how a lack of federal dollars are impacting health and food help that would normally be available to them.
“So many people depend on these services,” says Banks, “and if they’re not there for them, where can they go?”
As the shutdown continues, those in need will increasingly rely on the generosity of businesses like Isola Bella to survive. The complex does have vacancies available for other furloughed workers who need a place to stay. To connect with management, click here.