How The Federal Government Shutdown Is Affecting Ohio

The William Howard Taft National Historic Site was closed as usual on New Year's Day, but the doors weren't unlocked Wednesday morning. Callers heard the following message: "Due to the lack in federal appropriation, William Howard Taft National Historic Site is closed."

A notice on the park's website says the grounds remain open but the visitor center and business office are closed because of the partial government shutdown.

Parks And Monuments

In Dayton, National Aviation Heritage Area Communications Director Tim Gaffney reports many national park sites remain open because they're operated by private groups.

"The only ones that are closed ... are the interpretive centers for the National Park," he says. "There's the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center in West Dayton and the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center on Wright Memorial Hill."

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House is also closed. The remaining sites included in the National Aviation Heritage Area are open.

"Probably the one most people want to know about is the Air Force Museum, which is open and operating on its normal schedule," Gaffney says.

The Wright Brothers National Museum at Carillon Historical Park and Hawthorn Hill are open because they're operated by Dayton History.

The Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers monument in Xenia remains closed.

Park staff at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, meanwhile, are expressing concerns about the increase in littering and trash in the park since the shutdown began. Deb Yandala, CEO of the Conservancy for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, says trash cans are overflowing because no employees are there to empty the bins and that visitors are leaving their trash on the ground.

If the problem continues, Yandala says they may have to close the parking lots. Employees are not working at the park during the shutdown, but there are a handful of law enforcement officers there for general safety.

Staff members are asking the public to pack their trash out with them instead of leaving it in the park until the shutdown ends.

Government Agencies

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) remained open longer than some agencies, workers at the Cincinnati office are now on furlough. Public safety employees such as TSA agents are still on duty, but won't be paid until the shutdown ends.

The federal judiciary, which includes the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, are expected to have enough funding to continue operations through Jan. 11, according to Politico.

Another area of possible impact are to those seeking home loans.

"Immediately, right now we're not necessarily seeing it, but there is definitely potential," says Michelle Billings, president of the Cincinnati Board of Realtors. 

The government's Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will continue to endorse single-family mortgage loans. They will not, however, "do anything with multi-families during the shutdown," Billings says. "That's going to be interesting to see."

FHA also will continue to pay out claims and collect premiums. 

The shutdown of the IRS has an impact on home buyers, too.

"It will affect us in that the IRS is closing and suspending the processing of all forms, and that includes any tax return transcripts, like the form 4506-T," Billings explains. "So although FHA does not require those transcripts, there are some lenders that actually require those and so they won't be able to obtain that." 

She guesses that some lenders will make necessary provisions to offset that inaccessibility.

That includes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who both require 4506-T forms.

"They are going to adopt more relaxed provisions for such closings, but those closings will be submitted to the tax transcript verifications before the GSEs (government-sponsored enterprise) will actually purchase the loan." 

Most affected are those seeking to purchase rural housing, as the Department of Agriculture is not issuing any loans.

"That's where I think we'll see the biggest impact," Billings says. 

Her advice to potential home buyers?

"I would definitely recommend proceeding as normal, and this is where working with a Realtor becomes really important, because a Realtor will be able to direct them and guide them through the transaction process during the shutdown period,” Billings says.