Food stamps, housing subsidies and other services for America’s poor at risk as shutdown drags on

The waterlogged ceiling of Betty Gay’s rural Kentucky home sags so low that she hits her head on the light fixture. She’s only 5-foot-1. When it rains, the retired nurse’s aide covers her bathroom floor with buckets and towels. Mold festers on the damp walls.

Gay, 70, was counting on a $20,000 loan from the Agriculture Department this winter to patch the hole in the roof of the ranch-style Mount Sterling home she’s lived in for 30 years.

But the money is on hold.

The agency can’t process Gay’s application because its workers have been furloughed. Also suspended: the processing of thousands of USDA loans to low-income rural Americans to help them build or buy homes.

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