For many federal workers, keeping a roof over their heads got a lot harder in January thanks to the partial government shutdown that is approaching its third week.
Altogether, unpaid federal workers — including roughly 380,000 furloughed employees and 420,000 people working without pay — owe around $438 million in mortgage and rent payments in January, according to a report published this week by real-estate firm Zillow
That breaks down into $189 million in monthly rent payments and $249 million in mortgage payments.
‘Like Americans in the private sector, many federal employees rely on each and every paycheck to cover critical expenses, including housing.’
“Like Americans in the private sector, many federal employees rely on each and every paycheck to cover critical expenses, including housing,” Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas said in the report. “In many parts of the country, housing affordability is already stretched and a single missed payment can begin the long process toward foreclosure or eviction — which has long-term impacts on an individual’s finances and long-term economic prospects.”
Some government workers who are currently furloughed have turned to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to raise money for their rent. Last month, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the agency that oversees civilian workers in the federal government, made suggestions on Twitter
for affected workers to negotiate with landlords, creditors and mortgage companies. Some of the suggestions, such as offering to do maintenance work like painting and carpentry for one’s landlord in lieu of paying rent, were met with criticism.
The shutdown could have a significant impact on the overall housing market if it continues to drag on and furloughed workers get cold feet in the absence of paychecks.
The shutdown could have other ripple effects in the housing industry beyond missed mortgage or rent payments. “It also could have a significant impact on the overall housing market if it continues to drag on and furloughed workers who also are would-be buyers get cold feet in the absence of paychecks,” Terrazas said.
Additionally, some government agencies that are responsible for housing are currently operating with limited staff. Consequently, the Federal Housing Administration could be delated in processing and endorsing the mortgage loans it insures, which could force some would-be home buyers to forego their planned purchases.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said that banks likely won’t be able to close the loans it normally insures, and rental assistance programs run by the USDA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development may not be able to distribute funds to low-income Americans if the shutdown extends further.
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