The governor’s regional phased reopening strategy will allow construction projects to resume in some areas of New York starting on May 15.
However, the New York State Builders Association says that could be too late for many housing projects.
“The Capital Region you can’t guarantee and Western New York you can’t guarantee that’s going to be before June 1st,” Lewis Dubuque, Executive Vice President of the New York State Builders Association said. “And that’s just a dangerous, dangerous time. You’ve got three months of building left at that point.”
In a winter state like New York, there is limited time to complete construction projects. New York is the only state right now not allowing for market-rate residential construction to continue.
A few states, like New Jersey, have some safeguards in place, such as only allowing five employees at a time on a job site.
“Housing is the linchpin of the economy,” Dubuque explained. “If the governor wants to get things going, you couldn’t pick a better industry to get started. Our members work on job sites that are remote, safe to contain, you can constantly know who is going in and out of a job site. It can be closed off.”
Dubuque says postponing residential construction could force subcontractors to leave the state and also drive up housing costs.
“There’s less houses that are going to be built this year, so that’s going to increase demand and increase prices,” Dubuque said. “And housing prices are already high enough as it is. The Governor says he wants to do something about affordable housing, he needs to get people back building houses immediately.”
The Builders Association says they can protect their workers during this time and submitted a safety blueprint to the Governor and Empire State Development requesting that these projects be allowed to resume before May 15.