|Important COVID-19 Information for the Housing Industry|
Housing First Minnesota is Working For You
There are short-term impacts being felt across the industry today and we could still see longer-term impacts. During this time of uncertainty and challenges your association is working to ensure our industry comes out of this crisis stronger than before.
Critical Service Designation Webinar
Housing First Minnesota’s James Vagle and Nick Erickson recorded a webinar to share important information and provide resource guidance for the housing industry during the two-week Shelter-in-Place order.
Watch The Webinar
Housing Industry Impacts
Housing First Minnesota: Residential Construction is Essential
As Minnesota leaders have begun to place restrictions on certain businesses, Housing First Minnesota felt it important to connect with Gov. Tim Walz to inform him and his administration about the proactive measures the housing industry has taken to continue to operate.
On Friday, March 21, Housing First Minnesota wrote the Minnesota Governor, outlining the steps taken to protect employees and reduce COVID-19 transmission. Housing First Minnesota also asked that should a "shelter-in-place" order be given, that housing production remains able to continue. Several areas of the country with these limitations have allowed construction to continue. Learn more.
COVID-19 Critical Service Designation Resources:
To help member companies adjust operations, Housing First Minnesota has assembled a series of documents for use on job sites. Read more.
SBA COVID-19 Disaster Loans:
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced today that COVID-19 disaster loans are now available for Minnesota small businesses.
SBA is holding a webinars to provide more information on the loans. Register here >>
Municipal Permitting and Inspections:
Some local governments have, or are considering, reducing their services. However, as the construction industry continues to build and renovate buildings, from houses to hospitals, it is important that timely inspection services are maintained.
Before ceasing any permitting or inspection activity, municipalities must contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) to ensure that enforcement of the State Building Code is maintained by a designated building official. DLI has declared that ceasing all inspection services is not an option.
Housing First Minnesota staff is working diligently to update our industry members on which municipalities have put restrictions on their permit and inspection process.
Please visit our blog for the latest information.
Source: Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency emailed Housing First Minnesota on March 27 to affirm that during the shelter-in-place order, those with a SWPPP/NPDES Permit must take all necessary steps to maintain compliance. The MPCA knows there may be instances where a noncompliance situation is unavoidable, directly due to impact from the coronavirus. The MPCA has established a dedicated email account for requests related to regulatory flexibility, and to assist in alternative approaches to maintaining compliance. Email MPCA.COVID19REGFLEX@state.mn.us with specific information related to a request for regulatory relief.” Read more.
Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
OSHA recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR Part 1904 mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.
COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are met:
Visit OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements page for more information.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Safety is always paramount on a construction site. Please follow OSHA's COVID-19 Guidance.
Disruptions in Safety Measures Due to COVID-19:
N95 masks are in short supply and Vice President Mike Pence has asked that the construction industry donate these masks to hospitals and health care workers on the front lines.
As N-95 masks are important for keeping silica dust and other fine particles out of lungs. The National Association of Home Builders has put together the following guidance:
NIOSH, OSHA and others have guidance that includes vacuum dust collection systems, using wet-cutting techniques and minimizing the number of workers exposed to the hazard. Here are some resources to help construction companies reduce exposure to dust on job sites that reference these techniques for specific tasks:
If a respirator is required, employers can also provide workers with a substitute respirator of equal or higher protection, such as N99, N100, or P100 filtering facepieces, reusable elastomeric respirators with appropriate filters or cartridges, or powered air purifying respirators (PAPR).
Source: National Association of Home Builders
Many offices have shifted to telecommuting, including the Housing First Minnesota team. If your organization is able to do so, please make the appropriate accommodations. If telecommuting is not an option, be sure to follow CDC guidance on workplace cleanliness and social distancing.
Members have contacted us for guidance regarding the operations of sales centers and work sites and we want to share the following recommendations:
Appointment-Only Sales Meetings:
Shifting to appointment-only meetings for the short term will help to mitigate the risk of infection for customers and our industry employees & trade partners.
If your sales centers and model homes are open, either as usual or by appointment-only, please be sure to follow these recommendations:
· Staff should stay home if exhibiting symptoms.
· Maintain a six-foot distance between guests and staff.
· Limit or eliminate the need to hand documents or other materials to guests.
· Keep doors open and recommend that people limit interaction with surfaces like cabinets, closet doors, and light switches.
· Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces after any guests leave. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
General Association Operations:
Our foremost priority and guiding principle in all of our deliberations and decisions is the health and well-being of all industry members, their customers, employees, and our staff at Housing First Minnesota. We are continuing to monitor, communicate with key stakeholders, and evaluate this rapidly changing and unprecedented landscape for our industry.
All Housing First Minnesota staff will be working remotely during this time. If you leave a voicemail message on a direct line of an employee, the message will immediately be sent to their email inbox. Contact information can be found here >>
Parade of Homes & Remodelers Showcase:
The board met Tuesday, March 17 to discuss the Parade of Homes and Remodelers Showcase. The board found it necessary to take actions to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure to our attendees and staff. As a result, the Spring Parade of Homes has been paused effective immediately and the Remodelers Showcase has been canceled.
Parade of Homes participants, please remove directional signage at your earliest convenience. We have communicated this decision with the public. Remodelers Showcase Guidebooks will be removed from Holiday Station stores, and web and social properties will reflect this update.
The Parade of Homes has a long-standing history of helping homebuyers find their dream homes. We are committed to bringing the truly unique energy and strength of the Parade of Homes after we have worked through these challenging times. The Parade is a staple of homeownership in our state, we look forward to continuing that tradition in the near future.
All association events will be evaluated on a rolling basis by leadership and our Executive Board of Directors. Specific event information: