This story was originally published in Affordable Housing Finance.

Larry Hirsch should be processing grant requests, reviewing monitoring reports, and completing other duties for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Instead, the 18-year agency veteran is among the roughly 7,000 HUD employees on furlough as a result of the partial government shutdown that enters its fourth week.

Hirsch works in HUD’s New York office, managing grants for groups that help the homeless and working on the Continuum of Care program. As long as the shutdown continues, he’s not able to help organizations with their funding requests.

The shutdown, the longest in history, is putting low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities who depend on HUD assistance at risk. It’s also impacting government employees and contractors, who are not getting paid.

“There are people in my union, my local, who are facing issues about rent payment, food purchases, different things,” says Hirsch, who serves as vice president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 913. “There are a lot of people who go paycheck to paycheck.”

HUD has posted updates on its website, including a form for employees who choose to file an unemployment claim.

Approximately 500 to 600 out of 7,500 HUD employees are working during the shutdown, according to an agency representative. This is an increase from 350 and the result of some employees being temporarily brought in to work on specific issues like loading funding and reviewing accounts. However, all are working without paychecks.

The number of expiring housing vouchers was approximately 650 as of Jan. 11, according to the spokesman. That number rises each day because vouchers expire daily, he says.

As a longtime employee, Hirsch has gone through prior shutdowns, but this one’s different. “It’s longer, and … there seems to be a real impasse,” he says.

President Donald Trump and members of Congress have been divided on a spending bill that would include funds for the president’s controversial border wall.

Hirsch says he hopes the different sides will agree on a plan to reopen the government and then deal with a border wall separately.

“It’s important people know that we’re middle-class people,” Hirsch says. “Some of us are in different financial situations than others, but our incomes range in the middle class. We’re trying to live day to day and live a good life. The people I work with serve the homeless, the most vulnerable Americans …”

Hirsch and his HUD colleagues don't work on a border wall or border security. Instead, they are focused on affordable housing, another critical issue for Americans.

This story was originally published in Affordable Housing Finance.