90 Organizations Urge DHS to Designate Residential Construction ‘Essential’

Filed in Codes and Standards, Labor, Safety by on March 26, 2020 14 Comments

government openIn an effort spearheaded by NAHB, 90 companies and organizations today called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to designate construction of single-family and multifamily housing as an “Essential Infrastructure Business.”

In a joint letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Jack Wolf, the 90 organizations and suppliers said that this action is urgently needed to help stabilize the housing industry and its supply chain in the near term.

“As cities and states issue declarations and public health orders as a result of the crisis, it is essential that communities have access to our professionals to build and maintain essential services including: building, plumbing, residential property management, rental housing operators, roofing, electrical, HVAC systems, waste/wastewater treatment plants and power generations,” the letter stated. “Home construction, including those industries listed above, should be designated as ‘essential’ because it is necessary to maintain safety, sanitation, and economic security.”

“As housing goes, so goes the economy,” said NAHB Chairman Dean Mon. “Construction of single-family and multifamily housing is essential to the economy and should be allowed to continue under a remain in place order.”

To keep the housing sector running during this economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, DHS should take the following actions:

  • Permit government functions related to the building and development process, such as inspections, permitting and plan review services, to be modified to protect the public health. This can be done in a way that allows these functions to continue and serve the construction of housing, such as allowing qualified private third-party inspections in case of a government shutdown.
  • Allow supply stores, distributors and manufacturers of building products necessary to serve the construction, repair and maintenance of housing to operate.
  • Let those working in building trades continue to maintain the essential operation of residences and other operating businesses.

A large majority, if not all land development and residential construction job tasks fall within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Lower Exposure Risk jobs. Working on a new unfinished home site occurs primarily outdoors and does not involve going onto a location occupied by residents or a public location, and there is minimal (if any) physical or transactional contact with customers compared to other customer/client relationships.

“Housing is currently 14.6% of Gross Domestic Product and a major engine of the economy,” the joint letter to DHS stated. “Keeping the men and women of the industry building must be a priority. If the construction industry and its supply chain is disrupted, it creates a domino effect leading to dire negative economic repercussions for an already-burdened economy.”

Access the latest NAHB news and business resources to respond to this challenge at the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response section on nahb.org.

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Comments (14)

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  1. We desperately need this in the State of Washington, if for no other reason that to keep me from being arrested for keeping my work-sites open to one worker per jobsite per day, which is currently illegal now due to orders of the Governor.

  2. Diane Martin says:

    It is very important to keep the housing business going. We have a need for housing. As soon as this crisis subsides with the interest rates are so low the demand will be going forward and we will not have the homes. Most workers are not on top of each other they can use the human distancing and still work .

  3. Open up these businesses and jobs.

  4. Dave pearce says:

    Can you mow lawns for custumors and do landscaping in michigan?

  5. Mark says:

    I don’t see what the problem is like Jack Lansing said in his comment…
    We are outdoors And we can still practiss show so distancing…
    In the construction trades we are never in close proximity of each other everybody’s away from each other and doing their own thing…
    If we don’t get back to work this will cripple Michigan’s Economy and growth…mark worth..

  6. Stacey Border says:

    By not allowing residential construction in Pennsylvania, you are not allowing Nurses / Healthcare Workers have a place to live.

    I will be homeless come May 29th due to PA not allowing new home building.

  7. I own a Residential Affordable Housing Development in Colorado. We are in desperate need of affordable homes in my rural community. I been searching for a builder/Investor/developer willing to build affordable homes for my community. I have the lots ready to build homes, but I do not build. My search has hit a dead end due to this virus. If I don’t find someone soon I will lose another summer and people will not have new affordable homes this year. I am open to any suggestion anyone has, if you’re a builder or investor please email me asap. Manufactured-Modular homes are welcomed as well.
    Thank you
    City View Heights Development

  8. James says:

    We are specializing in residential and commercial property surveys in Charlotte, North Carolina just trying to find out if we are considered an essential company.

    – James, Charlotte Land Surveyors

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