‘Scared to death’: Federal workers who aren’t getting paid face tough decisions in nation’s priciest state

‘Scared to death’: Federal workers who aren’t getting paid face tough decisions in nation’s priciest

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 2,700 federal employees in Hawaii got pay stubs with nothing but zeros printed on them as the effects of the government shutdown hit home.

Hawaii families say the missed paycheck — the first since the shutdown began — are forcing them to dip into savings, pick up side jobs and even take out loans to cover the bills.

And the state’s highest-in-the-nation cost of living has many worried how long those stop-gaps will last.

Most federal agencies won’t allow their workers to talk to the media so relatives are speaking on their behalf.

Relatives like Kristy Lungo, whose son is a TSA officer on the Big Island.

“This crisis has been created and nobody’s been giving the folks that it’s impacting a recourse to provide for these people,” she said.

Lungo’s son has been with the TSA for 11 years. It’s a job he loves.

But, she said, it’s been hard lately to maintain that passion.

“He loves working for our country, And he loves keeping people safe," she said. “But he’s watching the morale at the airport get really low and his co-workers are scared to death.”

She added that bills are still due, and they’re quickly mounting.

“Right away his rent is due, car insurance due, utility bills due. He’s got credit cards. Those are due,” said Lungo.

“There’s no savings. You know you don’t make enough money here in Hawaii. The cost of living is really high. If they expect him to dip into his retirement, I don’t know?”

Kristin Frost Albrecht, executive director of the Food Basket on the Big Island, says federal workers started showing up on Tuesday and that she doesn’t expect the flood of people to stop anytime soon.

“We’re seeing some everyday,” she said. “A lot of people are saying that they’re going to come in on Monday morning so we’re preparing for people to come.”

On Oahu, The Hawaii Foodbank hasn’t seen an influx yet. But they anticipate one may be coming.

“We did receive our first phone call from the Coast Guard overnight. They’re just asking where can their folks go should they need assistance,” said food bank Executive Director Ron Mizutani.

Meanwhile, Lungo says the ripple effect of this shutdown extends a lot further than just federal workers.

“It’s not just 3,000 people. It’s 3,000 people, their spouses make 6,000 people. Their two children, which makes 12,000 people,” said Lungo. “They cannot get unemployment because they’re working. Right? So they have no money and no recourse.”

Food banks across the state are accepting donations of both perishable and non-perishable foods.

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