Government Shutdown Impacts Some Nonprofits - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Government Shutdown Impacts Some Nonprofits

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The government shutdown is impacting federally funded non-profit organizations, right here in northern Nevada.

AmeriCorps Vista is an organization that is funded by a federal grant, where members are paid to work for a nonprofit that focuses on alleviating poverty.

But without the government, there is no money funding the project.

Ray Eliot is an AmeriCorps Vista member who spends his time working at the Reno Bike Project, where he is in charge of an after-school bike riding class for at-risk kids.

"Teaching them about cycling as a means to improve their situation," Eliot said. "We think that cycling can be a tool for mobility and more than just getting around town, but also in life."

Vista members are paid at or below the poverty level of their local area.

That means people like Eliot are making $11,490 a year and they can't have a job during their one-year term.

"The idea is that you're working in poverty, while working against poverty," Eliot said. "So, I'm on the level with a lot of the kids I work with."

Members will still work at their nonprofits during the government shutdown but their stipends could be delayed until congress can get things going again.

"There's been some frustration and a lot of vistas are in a similar situation, where we don't have a lot of money," Eliot said. "A lot of us are living day-by-day, paycheck-by-paycheck, and if there's an interruption in that, that can really screw a lot of us over."

Eliot will be finished with his term, later this month, meaning the shutdown could also have an impact on the Reno Bike Project.

"We're also in the process of hiring a new AmeriCorps Vista member," Tony Wadas, Program Director at Reno Bike Project said. "That process is currently being delayed because the staff at AmeriCorps Vista aren't able to process anything."

In fact, the AmeriCorps website is even unavailable because of the lack of government funding.

Eliot says he knows a lot of other people that are affected by the shutdown and hopes the problems in Washington are resolved sooner than later.

"I think it just, in general, puts the people at unease," Eliot said. "It's not a cool situation to know that government can't figure it out."

Vista members get paid once every two weeks, so Eliot says if everything is back on track by next Friday, there won't be an interruption in their pay.

But if it carries on, he says it punishes the vistas in our community and throughout the country.

Written by Paul Nelson

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