Government suggests that furloughed workers barter for rent during shutdown

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The Capitol Dome is seen from the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, during a partial government shutdown. Chances look slim for ending the partial government shutdown any time soon. Lawmakers are away from Washington for the holidays and have been told they will get 24 hours’ notice before having to […]

Friday marks the seventh day of the partial government shutdown. 

In response, the Office of Personnel Management, which manages federal workers, tweeted out some advice to furloughed workers who may be worried about financial woes. 

On Thursday, OPM tweeted, “Feds, here are sample letters you may use as a guide when working with your creditors during this furlough. If you need legal advice please consult with your personal attorney.”

The tweet links to a series of templates that furloughed federal workers can use to try to keep creditors at bay. 

For example, one template reads: 

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 mortgage, along with my other expenses.”

Another letter suggests workers try to barter their labor in exchange for a break in rent. 

“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.”

This did not go over well with the internet. 

The tweet says workers should “consult with your personal attorney” if legal advice in dealing with creditors is needed, and some pointed out on social media that most people “of modest means” aren’t likely to retain their own attorneys. 

“Speaking as one of those ‘Feds,’ it’s nice of you to offer meaningless letters and suggest – while we have no pay coming in – that we incur legal expenses as well while we descend into debt. Thanks so much,” one person tweeted in response. 

There are more than 400,000 federal employees currently on furlough across 9 departments due to the partial government shutdown. 

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