MHI Ensures Housing Operations are Considered Essential by the Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has updated its guidance to states and localities about the essential workforce that can remain in operation during the COVID-19 outbreak. The updated guidance clarifies that housing construction operations and property management are considered “essential,” which means they are critical to public health, public safety, economic security, or national security. This clarification encompasses manufactured housing operations, including leasing, property management, housing construction related activities (which we currently interpret to include sales) and suppliers and contractors. While it is not mandatory for state and local governments to follow this federal guidance, the list has been utilized across the country as governors respond to COVID-19.
The updated guidance includes:
• Residential and commercial real estate services, including settlement services.
• Workers responsible for the leasing of residential properties to provide individuals and families with ready access to available housing.
• Workers responsible for handling property management, maintenance, and related service calls who can coordinate the response to emergency “at-home” situations requiring immediate attention, as well as facilitate the reception of deliveries, mail, and other necessary services.
• Workers performing housing construction related activities to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the nation’s existing housing supply shortage.
• Workers who support the supply chain of building materials from production through application/installation, including cabinetry, fixtures, doors, cement, hardware, plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, refrigeration, appliances, paint/coatings and employees who provide services that enable repair materials and equipment for essential functions.
• Workers supporting the construction of housing, including those supporting government functions related to the building and development process, such as inspections, permitting and plan review services that can be modified to protect the public health, but fundamentally should continue and serve the construction of housing (e.g., allow qualified private third-party inspections in case of government shutdown).
MHI worked with the White House, DHS, Congress, and a coalition of real estate and construction associations to secure this important clarification that clears another hurdle to ensuring the manufactured housing industry can remain operational during the COVID-19 emergency.
As a reminder, while very helpful, this federal list is advisory in nature and does not purport to be a federal directive or standard. As such, it is important to carefully review the stay-at-home orders issued in your states or localities, to determine how they have applied the federal list to their particular restriction (either providing more clarity or additional limitations).
MHI has created a chart indicating the states that have designated residential home construction as “essential.” We will continue to update this information as more states issue stay-at-home orders. MHI has been assisting our partner state associations to advocate for residential construction to be included in any directives or orders that are forthcoming that could impact business operations. MHI congratulates those State Executives who have already secured the essential workforce status for our industry within their states.
To keep our industry updated, MHI has created a website of COVID-19 developments that impact manufactured housing. The website provides helpful links, breaking news, resources to provide our members with an up-to-date look at what MHI is working on to support the industry. Visit our COVID-19 News and Updates page.
President Trump Signs “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act”
On Friday, President Trump signed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act” (S.3548) – a $2 trillion funding package aimed at providing additional economic relief to individuals, families, and businesses impacted by COVID-19. Provisions in this new package include direct cash payments to individuals and families, expansion of unemployment benefits, an increase in loans to small businesses, assistance for large businesses (airlines and hospitality industry) in severely distressed sectors of the economy, and additional funding for hospitals. MHI has compiled a high-level summary of some key provisions in this bill that could impact the manufactured housing industry.
This is the third federal intervention by policymakers as the national emergency surrounding COVID-19 escalates. Last week, the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” was the second intervention signed into law and guarantees free COVID-19 testing, secures paid emergency leave, enhances Unemployment Insurance, strengthens food security initiatives, and increases federal Medicaid funding to states. MHI joined a coalition of groups to secure changes to the mandatory paid leave provision that was included in this second relief package. The first federal intervention was an $8.3 billion package for small businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19, which was signed into law on March 6.
MHI is working with other housing industry groups and Congress to address the needs of the manufactured housing industry during this crisis. In the third package, MHI advocated for rental assistance for property owners, as well as financial mitigation measures for community owners. MHI also urged Congress to help businesses survive the crisis by ensuring action is being take to reduce their costs, and increase their cash flow in the coming weeks.
MHI has created a website to keep you apprised of COVID-19 developments that impact manufactured housing. The website provides helpful links, breaking news, and an up-to-date look at what MHI is working on in Washington and around the country.