Interior Design Can't Avoid the Government Shutdown

01.17.2019

As the government shutdown lumbers into an unprecedented month-long nightmare, the impact of the widely-discussed situation is being felt across the nation.

As of January 2, 2019, non-mandatory government resources were discontinued, including all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo—that even includes the National Zoo’s panda cam as well, which broadcasts Bai Bai the panda in real-time.

The government shutdown, which began Dec. 22, 2018, is affecting more than a quarter of the federal government, leaving around 800,000 government employees to be furloughed or forced to work without pay until the budget is passed.

But what does it mean for designers?

No New Loans for Small Business Owners

If your 2019 resolution included making the move to become a small business owner using loans from the government, that will have to be put on hold.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) doesn’t lend money directly, but it does work with independent lenders to provide loans to small businesses. Additionally, the SBA sets guidelines to help minimize risks for both lenders and small business owners.

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Small businesses who have already been approved and are receiving loans may not be affected, but because those employed by the SBA are currently furloughed, new applications won’t be processed, nor will questions be answered. Those whose applications are being processed can expect delays, even after the office re-opens.

Uncertain: Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

While the Smithsonian museums kept doors open thanks to the 2018 funds that were still available, they are now closed until an agreement is reached. The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, located in New York City, is one of the most prominent institutions dedicated specifically to design.

Beyond exhibitions, the Cooper Hewitt provides educational series to families, children and teens. As of now, the only program that is officially cancelled is the January 5, 2019, family program called Sewer in a Suitcase.

Closed: National Parks

While national parks will stay open during the shutdown, you can expect little in the way of services.

“For most parks, there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities or road maintenance,” states the National Park Service’s website.

Parks aren’t only not being cleaned, they are also losing money by the minute. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) estimates that national parks have lost over $5 million in entrance fees due to the government shutdown so far, a number that is steadily rising as the shutdown carries on.

Park staff is also highly limited at this time. If you’re one of those who design for the NPS or government-funded historical societies, or if you were thinking about recently volunteering at a national park, that will have to wait for now. Frozen budgets not only mean that money won’t be there, but with so many furloughed employees, it could mean most of your meeting attendees won’t be either.

Urban Housing Aid Continues

On Dec. 19, 2018, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it has awarded more than $139 million to 48 state and local government agencies to protect children and families from lead exposure. Another $6.6 million is being made available for testing and clean up of lead-based paint hazards in public housing.

Grant applications must be received through Grants.gov by February 18, 2019, despite the shutdown.

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International Travel

With international tradeshows kicking off – starting with Heimtextil in Frankfurt, Germany, January 8-11 – travel will luckily not be impacted. Air traffic control and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will continue to work during the shutdown, and Amtrak will operate as usual.

If you’re waiting for your passport, the Bureau of Consular Affairs, which handle passports, Visas, intercountry adoption and more, states that processing time will still take four to six weeks, and they urge anyone with an in-person interview to keep their appointment time.

With no current resolution in sight, President Trump continues to meet with Democratic leaders to try and come to a peaceful agreement.

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