The week-old federal government shutdown is a disaster on many levels. For rural America, one major impact is in the area of housing.For the near future, low- and moderate-income homebuyers who have applied for mortgages guaranteed or made directly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service are out of luck. So are very low-income homeowners seeking repair grants or loans.The financing these homebuyers need cannot close because no USDA rural housing staff are working at the local level. Banks make the guaranteed loans, which are like the mortgages insured by the Veterans Administration or the Federal Housing Administration. But USDA staff have to approve the guarantees and provide the necessary paperwork to the lender before the loan can be issued. With no staff, there can be no approvals.