After Child Protective Services in Pocatello, Idaho, took her son away in April, Candice Cluff fought to get back on her feet and regain custody. She went into rehab for meth addiction, got sober and started a new job as a hairdresser.
Then, nearly a month ago, she got a call that she was finally off the waiting list for a Section 8 housing voucher — a subsidy that will enable her to rent a two-bedroom home, which she’s required to have before she can reunite with her 2 1/2-year-old son, who has been in foster care.
But Cluff’s long-awaited voucher has been on hold for weeks. First it was delayed by the record 35-day government shutdown, and now, as the federal government reopens and catches up, the timeline remains uncertain.
“This is the last thing standing in between me getting my son back,” said Cluff, 30, speaking last week before the government reopened. “It really hurts knowing I’m doing all the work I possibly can, and now this is an obstacle that I have no control over.”
Cluff is one of many whose hopes and plans were upended by the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, and her situation demonstrates the vulnerability of many Americans when Washington politicians get into a spending dispute — a possibility that could recur when the current temporary spending bill expires in less than three weeks.