Liz McDargh is a federal employee who has been spending most of this week at home, even looking for part-time work while she waits out her furlough. She's also trying to explain it to her two daughters.
"I feel like this one is going to be a hard one for us as a generation to deal with with our kids because we're asking our children to learn how to get along, yet our politicians are not showing us a good role model," said McDargh.
Normally, McDargh would be working as an engineer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she's been employed for the past 14 years. But at this point, she says she doesn't know when she'll be allowed to go back to work.
"We are paid to help people who need our help, and we can't help them. So yes, I'm going to volunteer in the community. I've already started to do that, but I can't maintain my family without payment," said McDargh.
She says it's not just her and her coworkers whose livelihoods have been put on hold while politicians in Washington bicker. Entire affordable housing projects have come to a halt.
"If they had commitments for funding up to Sept. 30, those got approved, but anybody who was in the pipeline waiting to develop new senior housing or disabled housing or affordable housing, those projects are stalled. So what we'll see is in a few months, housing starts, we'll see a dip, because all of this is kind of a domino effect. So it's not just federal employees, this is a whole community affected," said McDargh.
McDargh's family has already downsized their home after her spouse lost her mortgage job during the recession. And McDargh is still trying to recover from five days of previous furloughs.
She says now she is left trying to make ends meet, making cuts to her own budget and wondering when their lives will return to normal.
"My spouse has an MBA and a bachelor's, and I'm an engineer. If education is supposed to be part of the American dream, what happened to the dream? It seems to be shifting," said McDargh.