federal workers

Federal workers affected by the ongoing government shutdown may not be able to pay their rent or mortgage on January 1. The Trump administration has offered a solution.

Hope your landlord will allow you to perform painting and carpentry work in exchange for rent.

A tweet from the verified account for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) — the entity that oversees civilian-level federal workers — offers federal workers who aren’t currently being paid due to the shutdown a series of letter templates to creditors asking them to consider alternatives to monthly payments due to the shutdown.

Furloughed federal workers are also told to “consult with your personal attorney” if they are in need of legal assistance, even though most public sector employees are paid an average of 32 percent less than their counterparts in the private sector and likely can’t afford to have a personal attorney on retainer.

The final template OPM included in its document to furloughed government employees is one meant for landlords. In the template, a tenant is encouraged to write to their landlord offering labor in exchange for partial rent payments.

As we discussed, I am a Federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency. Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my rent, along with my other expenses,” the template reads. “I will keep in touch with you to keep you informed about my income status and I would like to discuss with you the possibility of trading my services to perform maintenance (e.g. painting, carpentry work) in exchange for partial rent payments.”

The templates were widely ridiculed on Twitter for their insensitivity to the plight of furloughed federal workers and their brutal reality of not being able to pay bills.

“This is ridiculously tone deaf,” tweeted user @ed_d_ie. “You know the best thing? Let these people go back to work.”

“Sadly, nobody cares about the REAL financial impact on furloughed employees. Late fees and charges, higher borrowing rates because missed payments lowered their FICO,” tweeted user @SelSSe. “And to be clear, this is GOP’s fault!”

The partial government shutdown began after President Trump refused to sign a must-pass spending bill prior to the Christmas holiday because it didn’t include funding for his border wall. The shutdown may likely drag on into January when the 116th Congress is sworn in, as Trump says he’s willing to do “whatever it takes” to get wall funding.

 

Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.

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