Government agency suggests furloughed workers trade chores for rent payments

A federal government office has suggested furloughed employees offer to do painting or carpentry work in exchange for rent during the government shutdown, causing some to criticize the suggestion as "tone-deaf.”

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The U.S. Office of Personnel Management tweeted Thursday that employees should consult a "personal attorney" for legal advice, but it included a document of sample letters to help government employees negotiate with creditors, landlords and mortgage companies during the furlough.

A letter template for negotiating with a landlord includes, "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 payment."

An estimated 800,000 federal government employees have been at home without pay or working without pay since Dec. 22 due to the ongoing partial shutdown over President Donald Trump's demand for $5 billion in funding for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, the Washington Post reported.

The advice suggested in the letter was not well-received.

"Winner of the most tone-deaf tweet of the day, hands down," replied user @mompersisting in a tweet.

"Those 'chores' are JOBS that are done by other people so they can pay THEIR rent! Most landlords have maintenance and custodial workers. You are suggesting that OTHERS lose THEIR jobs so this president can have a temper tantrum!" tweeted @1kathyr.

An American Federation of Government Employees spokeswoman told Reuters the templates were developed during a 2013 government shutdown.

The OPM has not responded to media requests for comment because of the shutdown. Its social media is also expected to remain dormant until the government reopens.

The partial shutdown is expected to last until at least the beginning of the new year.

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