January 8, 2019 6:13 pm
Updated: January 9, 2019 12:33 pm

With no pay, families feel strain of U.S. government shutdown

An employee posts a closure sign at the entrance to the Smithsonian American Indian Museum in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 2, 2019.

EPA/ERIK S. LESSER
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ARLINGTON, Va. — In the past few weeks, Sunny Blaylock’s household has gone from dual income to no income.

Blaylock is a government contractor and has been laid off as a result of the U.S. government shutdown.

READ MORE: Trump to deliver prime-time address on security ‘crisis’ amid government shutdown

Her husband Seth is a diplomat and has been deemed an essential employee. He’s now working without pay.

“We’re just out of luck and out of a job and salary,” said Blaylock from her home outside Washington, D.C. “It makes us really nervous, and I hope it ends.”

After 18 days without pay, the family has had to dip into their savings to pay the bills.

WATCH: For U.S. government workers, the shutdown is not politics — it’s personal

They’re fine for now but they wonder how long this can go on.

“I can’t just sit around with hope and my patriotism — that doesn’t pay,” she said.

WATCH: ‘Federal employees deserve to be treated with respect not held hostage as political pawns’: Bernie Sanders


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Blaylock says her 11-year-old daughter Stella and nine-year-old son Tiger are painfully aware of the strain their parents are facing.

READ MORE: Nexus application for Canadians put on hold amid U.S. government shutdown

“Stella picks up on what’s going on, and she’s really really worried,” she said, while Tiger suggested he could sell his drawings, which hang all over the family home, to raise money.

Across the U.S., there are thousands of similar stories, and many workers find themselves in an even more precarious situation.

Low-level employees who live paycheque to paycheque are wondering how they’ll make ends meet if the shutdown drags on any longer.

WATCH: Global News coverage of the U.S. government shutdown

But the stalemate between President Donald Trump and the Democratic majority in Congress shows no sign of ending soon.

The fight over the border wall with Mexico is now so contentious that neither side seems willing to budge, and Trump’s prime-time address and visit to the border suggest he’s prepared to dig in deeper.

For government workers, there’s a growing sense of hopelessness and helplessness.

READ MORE: U.S. government shutdown lurches into 3rd week as Dems pressure Trump to reopen it

“It kind of feels like we’re being held hostage for people who can’t agree and negotiate,” said Blaylock.

In recent days, Trump has tried to downplay the impact of the shutdown on the people who are going without salary.

“I can relate,” said Trump from the White House lawn Monday, suggesting that banks and lenders would go easy on furloughed workers. “I’m sure that people who are on the receiving end will make adjustments; they always do,” he said.

WATCH: How the U.S. government shutdown is affecting Americans

But workers like Blaylock say they’re living a much different reality.

“My mortgage company doesn’t care that my husband is furloughed and I’m now unemployed,” she said. “They expect our mortgage.”

Blaylock says she’s even more worried about her co-workers, like the woman who works as a cleaner in her office.

“I’ve been losing sleep just thinking about her and knowing she can’t go missing two, three, four paycheques.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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