Suspension of Work First program hurting those looking for work

Suspension of Work First program hurting those looking for work

Posted: Updated:
DURHAM, N.C. -

The partial shutdown of the federal government is stopping thousands of unemployed or underemployed workers in North Carolina from getting money they were counting on.

A welfare program, called Work First, has been suspended by the state because there is no guarantee the federal government will reimburse the state once the shutdown ends.

In Durham, around 600 families benefit from the Work First program. The Department of Social Services said the office receives 20 to 30 new applications a week.

"That cash assistance is used to help individuals that may be out on maternity leave, that may be between work, that are preparing to go to work. So, those services help those families," said Rhonda Stevens, assistant director of the family economic independence division at Durham DSS.

Stevens said the amount of money an individual can receive depends on how many people are in their family. And even then, that money is only available to them for a limited period of time.

Stevens is hoping the shutdown will end soon but said DSS employees are working to find other resources for people who come in for assistance.

The Department of Health and Human Services said more than 20,000 people received the benefits from Work First in September. And that October payments have already been sent out meaning recipients would only miss the benefits if the shutdown continues into November.

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