Adapting Processes and Policies to Lessen Housing Delays

After a 22% drop in housing starts in March, municipalities and state governments continue to assess whether or not housing construction is essential, weighing factors like workforce safety and availability of construction materials.

May 12, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery

Housing Construction

Tom Grundy / Shutterstock

In a Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University blog post, Whitney Airgood-Obrycki identifies four reasons that construction projects could be delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. "COVID-19 will have many effects on housing markets in the coming weeks and years. One of the near-term consequences of the spread of and response to the virus is likely to be delayed construction due to office closures, construction moratoria, supply chain disruptions, and risks to the labor force," writes Airgood-Obrycki.

Closures of city offices and remote work means impeded permitting, inspection, and review. According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, 90% of participants reported an increase in the time required to obtain a plan review. Of the same group, 76% experienced delays in inspections. 

As of Airgood-Obrycki's writing, construction bans were in place in six states (Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington) in addition to many cities. New York and New Jersey are allowing construction on affordable housing projects. Difficulties in sourcing materials due to disruption in the global construction material supply chain leaves many projects at a standstill. Concerns about keeping construction workers safe on-site include a lack of access to sanitization products and a shortage of N-95 masks that protect workers from particulate matter. Retention in the construction labor force will depend heavily on the ability of project managers to protect staff where work is available. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020 in Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

Stylized rendering of the Midwest Regional Rail Network

Federal Railroad Administration Proposes New Midwest Rail Network

If built, regional high-speed rail networks could provide an alternative to uncomfortable air travel and prevent travelers from becoming stranded at airports during extreme weather.

January 17, 2022 - The Urbanist

A silhouette of construction workers lowering larger numerals into place to form 2022.

Planning Trends to Watch in 2022

Building a framework of understanding for the year to come.

January 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Tysons Corner

Rethinking Retail Space in the Wake of COVID-19

As e-commerce boomed and people sought outdoor shopping and dining options, the pandemic accelerated the decline of massive, merchandise-oriented retail spaces and indoor malls.

January 12, 2022 - Bisnow

Buildings on Wall Street, New York City

Office Landlords Luring Tenants Back With Incentives

Landlords are offering generous incentives in an effort to prop up the struggling U.S. office market.

51 minutes ago - The Real Deal

Pacific Coast

Opinion: California Should Invest In Housing, Not Dubious Desalination Projects

A controversial desalination plant in Orange County could receive massive state subsidies, but advocates argue the money would be better spent on affordable housing projects to relieve the state's housing crisis.

January 23 - Capitol Weekly

U.S. Capital

The Lesser-Known Programs in the Infrastructure Bill

While the focus has been on flashier components of the infrastructure bill, some smaller initiatives could have outsized impacts by shifting priorities and funding resilience efforts.

January 23 - Governing

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Case Study posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.