As Longest Government Shutdown Continues, Pennsylvania Businesses, Agencies Step In

Jan 14, 2019

The Capitol Dome is visible behind signs as Air Traffic and Pilot unions protest the government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 10, 2019.
Credit Andrew Harnik / AP

With a federal government shutdown that's the longest one in U.S history, some Pennsylvania businesses and agencies are stepping in. At Somerset Trust Company, that means offering furloughed federal workers no-interest loans.

“The workers are simply caught in the middle. It’s not their fault. They didn’t do it. And a lot of them live paycheck to paycheck," said bank President Jeff Cook. He said the loans are his bank’s way of trying to help people in that community.

Workers who qualify can receive a $3,000 interest-free loan from the Somerset-based bank while the furlough continues. Based in Somerset, the bank has offices in Westmoreland, Fayette, Cambria and Bedford counties and stretches into Maryland

“Like everybody else, we’re hoping that it ends in the not-too-distant future," Cook said. "But, we figured that that was good emergency money for anybody that needed to make sure they weren’t going to miss a mortgage payment, or a car payment or feed their families.”

Furloughed workers with children might also be able to get help from schools.

State College Area School District business officer Randy Brown said the district got a couple of inquiries about free and reduced lunches. The district decided to send a message reminding families of the program. Furloughed families might qualify.

“Because of the large number that could potentially be affected at this time, we decided that we thought it would be appropriate to reach out,” Brown said.

Brown said families can also apply for scholarships for the district’s before and after-school program.