By Andrew Kenney
The city of Denver will cut checks to ease the pain of the federal government's partial shutdown.
Starting Wednesday, homeowners who have suffered furloughs and other work changes can apply for a city grant to pay their mortgages. The city will give up to two months of mortgage payments, for a maximum of $5,000, through the program.
"It's simply unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of federal workers and their families are being used as political pawns," Mayor Michael Hancock said in a news release. "I don't want anyone to lose their home because of this shutdown, so Denver's going to step up and support our federal employee residents where we can."
A missed paycheck would have devastated his family when he was growing up, he said.
Total household income cannot exceed 120 percent of the area median income, or $107,880 for a family of four.
The program is not limited to federal employees. It's open to anyone who has "experienced an income reduction due to involuntary employment change," according to Derek Woodbury, a city spokesperson.
The city is running the mortgage program with Mile High United Way through the nonprofit's 2-1-1 help center. It's funded by $485,000 from the city's housing fund.
Separately, the city already offers a "Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance" program that covers some rent and utility costs for people who "face a temporary housing crisis" and make less than 80 percent of the area median income, or $71,900 for a family of four.
Other organizations also have offered support for federal employees. Alpine Bank, based in Colorado, will offer six-month, interest-free loans to furloughed government employees. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science has offered free admission to federal employees through January, and numerous restaurants are offering free or discounted food.
Meanwhile, Denver Human Services extended its hours to 7 p.m. Monday and will open at 7 a.m. Tuesday to help people recertify for food-assistance eligibility before the Tuesday noon deadline.
This Saturday, the city will host resource fairs at 1200 Federal Blvd. and 3815 Steele St. from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help people find housing and food resources.
About 15,000 federal workers in Colorado aren't receiving paychecks.
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