Unpaid Federal Workers Owe $189 Million in Rent Payments This Month

  • About 134,300 of the 800,000 workers affected by the shutdown depend on a federal paycheck to make their rent payment.
  • Federal employees who rent and aren’t being paid during the shutdown normally earn on average $135 in pre-tax income every day.
  • As of January 11, the 21st day of the shutdown, each affected renter is owed $2,835 in pre-tax income.
  • Nationwide, federal employees who rent, depend on their federal paycheck to cover housing costs, and aren’t getting paid during the shutdown owe a total of $189 million in rent this month. In Washington, D.C., this total is $42.5 million, with an additional $78.8 million in mortgage payments owed.

The government shutdown can have significant financial implications for impacted workers, many of whom rely on their federal income to afford housing.

About 800,000 workers aren’t being paid during the shutdown, including furloughed employees and those working without pay. Of those 800,000 workers, about 134,300 rely on a federal paycheck to pay their monthly rent.i

HotPads estimates that these 134,300 workers owe a total of $189 million in rent this month.ii A recent Zillow analysis estimates that federal employees who depend on their federal paycheck to cover housing costs and aren’t getting paid during the shutdown owe about $249 million in mortgage payments this month. In Washington, D.C., unpaid federal workers owe a total of $42.5 million in rent and $78.8 million in mortgage payments this month.

For the hundreds of thousands of Americans currently going without pay during the government shutdown, getting one less paycheck can have a long-term financial impact. Many employees who are out of work right now depend on their federal income for housing costs, and only 52 percent of U.S. renters say they could cover an unexpected $1,000 expense if needed.

Federal administrators have made efforts to soften the shutdown’s impact on affordable housing programs and unpaid workers’ housing expenses. The Washington Post reports that the Department of Housing and Urban Development sent letters to landlords of Section 8 housing asking them to use their reserve funding to keep renters in affordable housing programs affected by the shutdown. Additionally, the Federal Housing Administration has asked mortgage lenders to “be sensitive to the financial hardships” unpaid workers may be experiencing during the shutdown period.

However, depending on how long the shutdown continues, the housing stability of federal employees could become a greater concern. Federal employees who rent and aren’t being paid during the shutdown normally earn, on average, $135 in pre-tax income every day. As of January 11 – the 21st day of the shutdown – each affected renter is owed $2,835 in pre-tax income.

For questions and media inquiries regarding this analysis, email press@hotpads.com.

 

iMethodology: To calculate the number of federal workers who rent, depend on their federal paycheck to cover housing costs, and aren’t getting paid during the shutdown, HotPads analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey published by the University of Minnesota, IPUMS-USA, for a sample of the type of federal employees likely to be without pay in the current shutdown. If a worker is not being paid during the shutdown, but likely does not rely on their federal paycheck to cover housing costs, they were not included in this analysis.

iiTo calculate the total amount this group of federal employees owes in rent this month, HotPads compared the typical rent payments in the U.S. and in Washington, D.C. to the number of unpaid federal workers who rent and rely on their federal paycheck for housing expenses. If a worker is not being paid during the shutdown, but likely does not rely on their federal paycheck to cover housing costs, their monthly rent payment was not included in the total amount.