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Federal Government Advised Furloughed Employees to Offer Manual Labor for Rent During Shutdown

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As the partial shutdown drags into its second week, the federal government has advised federal employees to ask creditors for leeway in repaying mortgages and other debt. One sample letter even suggested that they offer to trade manual labor in exchange for reduced rent payments.

That guidance appears to have been removed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which posted the advice on its Twitter account Thursday – but not before it was noticed by CBS News, Axios and other news outlets.

On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security managed to ensure that the members of the U.S. Coast Guard – the only military service affected by the partial government shutdown – would receive their final paycheck of 2018. However, it could be their last one until a deal is struck to fund the government.

According to Stars and Stripes, Coast Guard service members received a letter from Coast Guard Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Ray informing them they would be paid Dec. 31. The next scheduled pay date is Jan. 15.

An estimated 380,000 government employees have been furloughed and another 420,000 will have to work without pay, according to Senate Democrats.

Among those employees deemed too essential to furlough are the 42,000 active-duty Coast Guard service members and Border Patrol agents. When their agencies run out of funding, they will be working without pay.

On Thursday, OPM posted two sample letters for federal workers to use with creditors and landlords.

According to reports, one passage in a sample letter to a landlord reads: “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.” That passage no longer appeared on the sample letters by Saturday morning.

However, the letters do lay out a case for federal employees asking for reduced payments.

“As we discussed, I am a Federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency,” the sample letter states. “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.”

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Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com