Government shutdown threatens local domestic violence center


Reporter - Kendall Downing

HARRISBURG, Ill. - As the government shutdown continues, agencies that depend on federal money are making backup plans.

The reason? Some of the money they need to operate is frozen because of congressional inaction.

We're learning more about who could pay for the stalemate in Washington.

They include domestic violence victims, the homeless, and the people who help bring them the services they need.

The executive director of the Anna Bixby Women's Center in Harrisburg said they are facing a major shortfall.

Barbara Wingo said there's about $60,000 in the bank account right now. She's told her staff she won't make payroll in the upcoming pay period, and she may not make the one after that.

"It was a true shock when that came through, even though I knew it was going to come," said Wingo.

Wingo got a notice from the state of Illinois on Monday, saying federal and state domestic violence funding is frozen because of the government shutdown.

"I do not think they know how many people, including domestic violence victims, will suffer," she said.

Wingo said the Anna Bixby Women's Center is owed roughly $197,000 through the end of September. She anticipates they'll miss out on $100,000 this month if the shutdown continues.

The center serves domestic violence victims, the homeless, and victims of sexual assault in southeastern Illinois.

They also operate a food pantry.

"No one will be paid," said Wingo.

Wingo's 20 staff members will continue to do their jobs without a check.

Kelly Smith is one of them.

"It's stressful on a family. You've got kids that want to go to this and go do that, but you can't do it. That's kind of hard for a nine-year old and 16-year old to understand," said Smith.

The whole situation's hard for Barbara Wingo to understand.

"Angry and sad," she said.

We also spoke to the executive director of The Women's Center in Carbondale. She tells us they secured their funding before the shutdown, but if it continues into next month, they will be affected.