NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Thomas Ruiz missed his mortgage payment this month.
Unless the government shutdown ends soon, this furloughed father of four will miss February’s payment, too.
“My son asked me the other day, my oldest, ‘Are we going to lose our house, Daddy?’ and I said, ‘No. Don’t worry about it’.”
At night, though, the Environmental Protection Agency employee loses sleep over the same question.
His lender, Wells Fargo, has extended payment deadlines and waived late fees.
“How long can it go on? They’ve got to collect their money as well,” he said.
North Texas cities are working with federal employees struggling to pay their water bills.
The city of Frisco is waiving late fees.
A spokesperson for Fort Worth said it won’t disconnect service.
Garland will ask city council to approve an assistance program for government workers.
Ruiz has started playing music at a local coffee shop to make some money, but it’s not enough to pay the bills.
Monday, he and two of his children stopped by Minnie’s Food Pantry to collect a week’s worth of groceries.
It was a first for him.
“As a recipient. Yes. I’ve volunteered before, but as a recipient, yes,” he said.
It’s a necessity now, he says, for his family.
“I’ll tell you what I did not feel ashamed,” he said.
What he does feel is grateful to everyone helping him and his colleagues.
“I can’t thank them enough,” he said.
You can catch Ruiz playing guitar at Duino Coffee, 7650 Stacy Rd, in Frisco this Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Drinks will be discounted for government workers with an ID. A portion of the proceeds will go toward Minnie’s Food Pantry.