As the government shutdown drags on, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are feeling increasingly desperate, turning to pawnshops to sell off jewelry or heirlooms to pay their bills and trying to line up second jobs to make ends meet.
School districts are reporting record applications for substitute teachers and many are turning to Uber and Lyft to make some money driving. In even more desperate circumstances, people are tapping into their retirement savings or delaying payments at risk of seriously harming their credit or turning to unscrupulous lenders for high-interest loans to get by.
The Consumer Bankers Association says calls have increased tenfold from the beginning of the shutdown as more and more workers seek relief from payments while they’re forced to go without a paycheck.
Some are also turning to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to try to raise money for medical bills and other necessities. Bret Conant, a federally employed civil engineering technician, whose son was born early and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, set up a GoFundMe to cover medical expenses.
Huffington Post reports that over 1,500 GoFundMe campaigns have been set up by federal workers furloughed or forced to work without pay.
Meanwhile, GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon and motivational speaker Deepak Chopra set up a campaign to help federal workers, with donations raised going to different nonprofit organizations, which reached its goal of $200,000 in three days.