The San Jose City Council unanimously approved a plan Thursday to offer furloughed federal employees at Mineta San Jose Airport short-term loans during the government shutdown.
Technology Credit Union, founded in Santa Clara County in the 1960s, will administer the loans with $10 million from the city's General Fund.
The loans will go toward about 500 air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration employees, Customs and Border Protection officers and other federal employees who work at the airport. The maximum amount will be equal to one month's take-home pay.
"This isn't a handout; it's a loan. It's going to be repaid as soon as they get back on track," Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco said during Thursday's special meeting, responding to critics of the program.
The loans will begin accruing a 12 percent interest rate after 14 days of receiving a backpay check as an incentive for repayment, according to the city. There will be no credit checks.
This week, the airport hosted Second Harvest Food Bank to donate fresh produce and supplies to workers affected by the shutdown.
Absences among workers at the airport jumped from about 3 percent to 14 percent during the shutdown, which began on Dec. 22 in the peak of travel season, but airport officials said they have almost returned to normal levels because of community support and the city's proposed initiatives.
City Manager David Sykes said the short-term loan program is directed toward airport workers due to their role in a critical city service, but will leave the door open for other federal workers if the shutdown demands.
The federal government shutdown is on its 34th day and is the longest in U.S. history.