Joe Fowler

Joe Fowler

2020 President, Home Builders Association of Greater Austin

During these turbulent, complex and challenging times, we must all do our part. The HBA’s job is to educate and advocate on behalf of the 750+ HBA members to help protect the home building industry. Ever since the shocking orders issued by Travis County and the City of Austin excluding most construction from the list of essential services, we have worked 24/7 to advocate for our industry and associated trades and services at the local, state and national levels.

In case you weren’t aware, on March 19, 2020, the United States Department of Homeland Security Cyber Infrastructure Security Agency (US DHS CISA) issued a Guidance Memorandum outlining “essential critical infrastructure workforces” that should continue during COVID-19. Construction was included on that list, but several local jurisdictions chose to govern against the national guidance, the majority of Texas and the majority of the United States and to restrict construction to select projects and people.

In direct response to these restrictions, on Saturday, March 29, 2020, the US DHS CISA issued Guidance Memo 2.0, which specifically included residential construction as an essential critical infrastructure workforce that should be allowed to continue operations.

Functioning critical infrastructure is imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for both public health and safety as well as community well-being. Certain critical infrastructure industries have a special responsibility in these times to continue operations…[including:]

Workers performing housing construction related activities to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the nation’s existing housing supply shortage.

See https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce.

After numerous phone calls, emails and letters to local, state and national officials, working both alone and in conjunction with other national, state and local industry associations and stakeholders, we are happy to report that these efforts made a meaningful impact.

On March 31, 2020, Governor Abbott issued an Executive Order adopting DHS CISA Guidance Memo 2.0 as determinative of essential businesses in Texas.

The efforts of the HBA of Greater Austin have not gone unnoticed. Karl Eckhart, vice president of Intergovernmental Affairs at the National Association of Home Builders, shared that the HBA’s “advocacy tactics are being modeled in other cities and states already.”

However, we must continue to be vigilant.

We must lead by example regarding jobsite safety!

Although construction job sites already have their own unique safety requirements built in, social distancing orders and safety rules MUST BE FOLLOWED.

This is up to each builder, each crew member, each service technician and service provider. If you see something outside of these safety procedures, say something to your fellow builder. We must stay on top of this in order to keep Austin building and more importantly to keep Austin safe.

Our area’s housing industry is among the strongest in the nation and we plan to do everything in our power to keep it that way. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the city and county officials in the greater Austin area to help ensure the safety of our workers and our community.

For more tools and updates, we encourage you to sign up for HBA email blasts at HBAaustin.com and follow us on social media (@HBAGreaterAustin), Twitter (#hbaaustin) and LinkedIn (home-builders-association-of-greater-austin).

The HBA will continue to work day and night to protect our industry and will continue to advise our Members to obey all laws and always keep safety first.

Together we can stay healthy, ensure our infrastructure remains strong, keep essential industry moving and ensure we all emerge even better.

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