DHS: Residential construction is ‘essential business’

Residential construction
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Saturday designated residential construction—of single-family and multifamily housing—as an “Essential Infrastructure Business.” The National Association of Home Builders called it a “critical win for NAHB and the residential construction sector.”

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, NAHB says. This NAHB map highlights COVID-19-related construction exemptions on a state level.

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This is guidance from DHS that states can follow. Therefore, in states where only essential businesses are allowed to keep operations going during the coronavirus epidemic, residential construction workers should continue to be allowed to stay on the job.

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.”

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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