In a critical win for NAHB and the residential construction sector, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today designated construction of single-family and multifamily housing as an “Essential Infrastructure Business.”
The designation will enable many home building firms to keep their businesses open during the COVID-19 pandemic and help to stabilize the housing industry and its supply chain in the near term. More detail about the construction workers who qualify as essential can be found in both the “Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services” and “Residential/Facilities and Services” sections of the guidance.
Keep in mind that there is no mandatory federal order on what is an essential business, and many states have their own rules. Although this DHS designation is not binding to state and local governments, it does mean that there could be more workers on job sites in the coming weeks.
NAHB was at the forefront among all housing groups in calling on DHS to make this designation.
“Americans depend on a functioning residential construction sector to provide safe, affordable housing for our citizens, and this need is especially acute during this pandemic,” said NAHB Chairman Dean Mon. “Moreover, a healthy housing market is critical to maintain a sound economy. I commend DHS for heeding the urgent concerns of the housing community and taking this decisive action to assure the men and women of the industry will be able to stay on the job and serve the needs of the American people at this critical time.”
On March 26, in an effort spearheaded by NAHB, 90 companies and organizations sent a joint letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Jack Wolf urging him to designate the construction of single-family and multifamily housing as an Essential Infrastructure Business.
“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.”
The safety and health of all those who work in construction remains our top priority. The industry continues to adhere to all public health guidelines set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 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.
Access the latest NAHB news and business resources to respond to this challenge at the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response section on nahb.org.