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A local nonprofit, community action agency that serves the needy will be forced to close its doors for 20 days in the coming months due to strain brought on by the Pennsylvania state budget impasse.

Community Progress Council, 226 E College Ave., will be closed from Nov. 23 through Nov. 30 and Dec. 21 through Jan. 1.

This comes in spite of a variety of steps taken to remain in operation — including taking out an additional $2 million line of credit. The closures will allow the organization to function until January, in spite of the budget impasse, which on Wednesday had reached 120 days.

Impact: "I had to announce to 250 employees, a lot of whom are not very highly paid to begin with, that they will not be working for three weeks right around the holiday season. It's one of the most expensive times of the year, no matter who you are," said Robin Rohrbaugh, Community Progress Council president and CEO. "I have single moms questioning how they're going to be paying for holiday gifts; an employee asked me how she was going to be able to pay for her January rent.'

And employees are only the first of many affected.

"The impact on our client is huge, we serve folks who are homeless, near homeless, provide emergency rent assistance and shelter, and those services won't be able available during" the closures, Rohrbaugh said.

Those in the community who utilize the organization's slew of programs, which include a women and infants nutrition program, early childhood education programs, rent assistance and emergency housing, will be forced to find assistance elsewhere.

"We have about 1,000 children who are in our early education programs, so families who are working will be needing to look for alternative services," Rohrbaugh said, noting the closures were intended to line up with holiday vacations. "We have a supplemental nutrition program, and we are actively trying to reschedule an active number of appointments to make sure babies can get formula.

"It costs money to feed kids, to keep a building warm, to house people, and the money just isn't flowing."

Steps taken: In addition to taking out a line of credit, Rohrbaugh said the organization has taken several steps to stretch the funds before deciding to close.

Community Progress Council, which has a yearly budget of about $10.5 million, is funded through state and federal sources and offers its programming through vendors and businesses from across the county, Rohrbaugh said.

"I've negotiated with some vendors so that we can defer payment until the budget passes," she said. "Some of these vendors are small businesses struggling with their own cash flow, but they've taken it on the chin themselves because they know what we do is important.

"We've had all kinds of compromises and offerings from the community to help us through."

Grace: Rohrbaugh said if elected officials handled the situation as her employees have, a resolution would have been reached long ago.

"My employees have handled this with such grace," she said. "They can say that if this means we are able to provide services a little longer, then we understand that, we can make those sacrifices.

"It's very discouraging to me that our elected officials are not taking that same perspective. Both sides need to make sacrifices so that business in Pennsylvania can continue. This is just unacceptable."

While Community Progress is actively trying to adjust in light of these closures, they ask those who have scheduled appointments in either time frame to reach out to reschedule.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.

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