In this month’s Home Building News magazine, Ezra Hammer reviewed HBA’s ongoing efforts at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that housing consruaction can continue during the pandemic. COVID-19 has turned Oregon upside down. While we shelter in place pursuant to Governor Brown’s executive order, an extraordinary 92,700 Oregonians filed new unemployment claims in the first week of April, up 21% from the record-setting tally set just one week earlier. To understand the scope of the problem, the 168,300 claims filed in the last two weeks of March represent more new claims than the prior 39 weeks combined. Many of those newly unemployed are from sectors and businesses that are required to remain closed in order to minimize person-to-person interactions. Importantly, construction is not one of those sectors. Unlike Washington State, which shut down essentially all construction, including all new housing, Oregon and local jurisdictions have taken a collaborative approach to ensure that the 100,000+ person strong industry can keep moving forward. This is due, in no small part, to the concerted, continued effort of the home building industry. Through a united effort that includes builders and developers along with labor, housing advocates, and material suppliers, the HBA family worked with federal, state, and local jurisdictions to ensure that construction can continue with appropriate social distancing guidelines in place. In a critical win for residential construction, the Department of Homeland Security designated construction of single-family and multifamily housing as an “Essential Infrastructure Business.” The designation, while advisory in nature only, provides critical guidance to states and local governments and 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. This hard fought win shows the federal government's commitment to keep construction ongoing even as other sectors are shuddered. This directive followed Governor Brown’s executive order that closed thousands of businesses deemed non-critical across the state. Under the order, home building continues so long as employers are able to manage project sites in compliance with social distancing and site cleanliness standards. While several ill-informed hit pieces from the usual suspects have attempted to paint a bleak picture, most builders are fully complying with these guidelines and ensuring construction sites remain safe. At the local level we are working with cities and counties to ensure that new housing can continue. Part of that work includes sharing industry best practices and providing information to our members to help ensure jobsites remain safe for workers and the general public. You can find these resources on the COVID-19 page on our website, which is updated regularly with useful information. Additionally, we provided advice and guidance to over a dozen municipalities as they expanded the use of digital permit submissions, remote conferencing for public hearings and meetings, and videos and pictures for inspections. These adaptations have enabled our local government partners to continue processing housing applications and approving new construction, ensuring minimum disruption to development timelines. While several jurisdictions have experienced hiccups that prevent them from continuing with as much business as usual (as possible), most have implemented new processes to effectively and efficiently move housing through the regulatory pipeline. HBA is hard at work for you at the federal, state, and local levels of government. Advocacy is critical during these challenging times, and HBA remains a (virtual) presence in the United States Capitol, Oregon State Capitol, and dozens of county buildings and city halls around the region advancing the cause of housing. Stand with us and fight to ensure that new housing continues.