COVID-19 BUILDING INDUSTRY UPDATES
LOCAL UPDATE:
Montgomery County

On Friday, March 27, Montgomery County Judge Keough issued a “Stay at Home” order similar to Harris and Fort Bend Counties. Residential construction, including remodeling is considered an essential service. For more information see page 6 of the order .

City of Houston

Beginning today, many of the departments at Houston Permitting Center (HPC) will start teleworking. However, should you encounter an issue email Bradley Pepper .

The HPC will be operating with a skeleton crew, but should an issue in the review process occur with the plan reviewer, the plan reviewer will attempt to work all issues by phone, email, or Skype with a manager to assist. If the plan reviewer cannot work out the issue, the plan reviewer will request an appointment. The plan reviewer will then return to HPC for the appointment. Please see the instruction provided by HPC to COH inspectors. With this information, it is our hope that you will be better able to cooperate with local inspectors.
STATE UPDATE:
TAB has provided a revised construction worker travel letter in English and Spanish. On Saturday, 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 related services. The new letter reflects this update.
FEDERAL UPDATE:
Last week, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act.) This act details the type of leave employers of 500 people or less are required to provide in light of COVID-19.

On Friday, March 27, Congress passed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act.” Below are key components for the legislation:

  • Expands certain protections for borrowers under loan programs administered by the Small Business Administration (the “SBA”) under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act and establishes the Paycheck Protection Program (the “PPP”), which will authorize the SBA to provide guarantees for loans to businesses of not more than 500 employees. The CARES Act provides for limited loan forgiveness during the stated covered period of payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent obligations, and utility payments.
  • Provides advance payment of up to $10,000 to eligible applicants that have applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (“EIDL”), which are to be funded within 3 days of application. These advance payments need not be repaid, regardless of whether an EIDL is awarded.
  • Provides a subsidy available to borrowers who have existing SBA loans, where the SBA will pay the principal, interest and associated fees owed on covered loans for a six-month period starting on the next payment due.
  • Increases the maximum indebtedness limit for companies seeking to become a debtor under the Small Business Reorganization Act under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to $7.5 million and excludes coronavirus-related federal aid from the definition of “income” under Chapters 7 and 11 of the U S. Bankruptcy Code.
  • Provides assistance to individual workers, their families and business in multiple ways. Unemployed individuals will receive additional federal unemployment benefits on top of their existing state benefits. The most notable form of individual assistance is that individuals with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married couple), who are not dependents of other taxpayers and who have a work eligible social security number, are eligible for a $1,200 ($2,400 married couple) rebate with an additional $500 per dependent child.
  • Additionally, assistance will be provided to eligible businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis in the forms of payroll tax credits and accounting or tax modifications, which are intended to provide access to much needed cash flows and liquidity.
  • Allocates $500 billion to the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund to provide loans, loan guarantees and other investments to businesses, states and municipalities needing economic relief under the COVID-19 pandemic.

The timeline for when these programs become available to companies is not yet known. Current thinking is that over the next couple of weeks, agencies will create rules and regulations that govern how these loans are administered. These rules and regulations will hopefully answer many questions that exist with respect to this sweeping economic legislation. More info
For more visit ghba.org/covid19