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Critical Government Affairs Update - Essential Workers

On Saturday, March 28th the Department of Homeland Security/Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released their updated list of critical infrastructure/essential services to include residential construction and many construction related services.

Many thanks to the leadership of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and others in Washington who have been pushing for this designation.  This federal action is very helpful but does NOT mean our industry is automatically deemed essential in all local jurisdictions or state-wide.

The new designation and “Residential/Shelter Facilities and Services” on the last page of the document states “Workers performing housing construction related activities to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the nation’s existing housing supply shortage” are deemed essential.

As you will see in the attached memo, the CISA Director makes this clear:


“This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard. Additionally, this advisory list is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions. Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.” 


Many (but not all, unfortunately) of our jurisdictions that have taken these actions have deemed construction and/or residential construction as an “essential service”and thus allowed our industry to continue working at this time.  We expect jurisdictions across the state to continue to adopt and then update their orders/restrictions as this situation continues to evolve.  We are monitoring this and will continue to keep you apprised of changes.

Please see the updated letter in both English and Spanish for you to make available to your employees, subcontractors, vendors and suppliers.  With multiple jurisdictions around the state issuing “Stay at Home” or “Shelter in Place” orders over the past week and more to come, we have had many requests for this letter from GSABA’s member companies to provide to their employees, tradespersons and other industry partners.  Many thanks to Ned Munoz with the Texas Association of Builders (TAB) for updating the letter to reflect the CISA 2.0 designation and for drafting one in Spanish as well.

The City of San Antonio (COSA) defined the residential construction industry as an exempted business (see page 2 of Emergency Declaration No. 5 under 2.b.iv) for COSA and Bexar County.  The City of Boerne declared on March 23rd  that residential construction is an essential business (see page 11).

For those of you building and working with multiple jurisdictions, there may be a need to modify the letter to suit individual circumstances.  I am working on a City Update for the eleven cities that we monitor and I will send you an updated City Report on Monday afternoon, March 30th or Tuesday morning, March 31st.

I want to extend a personal thank you to Scott Norman, Executive Director of the Texas Association of Builders, and his team as they continue to work with the industries/associations on the state level to try and address these issues.  We are grateful for all TAB does for GSABA and our members.


Finally, nothing in this communication or attached is intended to be legal advice and as always we would urge GSABA members to seek the advice of their legal counsel for any concerns or implications that may arise from the use of this letter template.


On behalf of your President Jeff Czar and the Government Affairs leadership team, thank you for being a member of GSABA.