The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued new guidance designating many aspects of the residential construction as “essential” for “critical infrastructure.” The DHS guidance addresses a wide range of industry sectors; but the part most applicable to our members declares the following workers to be “essential”:
RESIDENTIAL/SHELTER FACILITIES AND 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 performing services in support of the elderly and disabled populations who coordinate a variety of services, including health care appointments and activities of daily living.
- 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).
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It has come to our attention that some individuals believe that this DHS guidance supersedes the Governors’ orders. Members in Pennsylvania should understand that the federal information is only guidance. It does not overrule any legitimate orders issued by state authorities. To be even more explicit – the DHS guidance does not change the rules currently governing the residential construction industry in Pennsylvania. The guidance simply states the federal government’s interpretation of how various industry segments should be viewed.
Despite those facts, we encourage anyone seeking a waiver from the Governor’s shutdown order to refer to this guidance. The same advice applies to those interacting with state and local government officials. The guidance does not guarantee that anyone’s request will be granted; but, presumably, the more an applicant’s waiver request fits into one or more of the definitions provided above, the better the chances of success.