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COVID-19 Update

in Announcement

April 29, 2020

The last 30+ days of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order haven’t been easy on any of us. For our most vulnerable neighbors, it has brought unimagined hardship. For our health heroes and the essential workers manning grocery stores, pharmacies and other critical businesses, it has meant an exponential risk of exposure in order to provide some semblance of normal for the rest of us.

We looked toward May 5 with hope and anticipation of a return to a more recognizable rhythm of life, but were met with more still more challenge and loss – with the premature end of the school year, requiring families to adjust to a new model of distance learning, and then by the anticipated extension of the order farther into May. Keeping our community safe should be and is the first priority, but I don’t know anyone who isn’t impacted in one way or another by this pandemic.

We are all learning to practice new levels of patience and, hopefully, finding new depths of resiliency as we adjust to new ways of moving through our lives.

The following is a look at the new ways in which Tacoma Habitat is flexing its operation.


On the Construction Site

On April 24 Governor Inslee announced a plan to reopen construction. While Tacoma Habitat, as a recipient of public funds, never shut down completely we are now bound by a new level of mandates in order to continue to build. Governor Inslee’s Phase 1 Construction Restart COVID-19 Job Site Requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Develop a comprehensive COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation, and recovery plan.
  • Designate a site-specific COVID-19 supervisor to monitor the health of employees, enforce the COVID-19 safety plan, and be present any time 7 people or more are working on a project.
  • Screen all workers at the beginning of a shift, including taking and logging temperatures.
  • Create and maintain a daily attendance log for all persons working or visiting the build site, as well as a data sheet of disinfectants used on site.
  • Hold weekly prevention and mitigation trainings, to be logged and posted on site.
  • Create and post additional signage on site, including project description; safety and mitigation plan; weekly training schedule; hygiene requirements; and written compliance with the Governor’s Phase 1 requirements.
  • Supply PPE to be worn by everyone on the worksite at all times.

We have some work to do to get up to speed and are thankful to the Master Builders Association for providing templates and guidance as to how to best be (and stay) in compliance with these new regulations.

As mentioned before, our Construction Site Managers have been working diligently on site. We received a Certificate of Occupancy on a new home just two weeks ago and are looking forward to completing the sale of this home with the future homeowner. It is encouraging to see that despite the challenges we are still providing the opportunity of homeownership for modest-income families.

About Volunteers

Volunteerism is at the core of our organizational identity. We sorely miss our interactions with volunteers and deeply feel the impact of their absence in both daily operation and financial position.

Staff continues to rework policy and craft a measured, phased approach to welcoming volunteers back to our build sites. The Governor’s guidelines open construction activity, but they do not expedite the safe return of volunteers. While it’s painful to acknowledge, I cannot offer a timeline on when we will be able to re-open our volunteer schedule.

Serving Homeowners

Through the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order, staff has been working to support and coach both homeowners and prospective homeowners. You can see a compilation of some of offered resources here.

We have also launched a virtual three-part financial health workshop series to help homeowners and friends of Habitat alike through challenging economic times. Last week’s feature was Understanding Mortgage Terms and the next session will be Maximizing Your Budget in Lean Times on Wednesday, May 6.

In May, we will hold our first Homeowner Info Session via Zoom.


While the Habitat Stores remain closed, we look forward to serving you again soon. If you’ve been on a pandemic purge and have items you’d like upcycle with us, I encourage you to hold on to them for now. Once it’s deemed safe to do so, our team will gladly do a pickup.

In the meantime, please take care to stay healthy and minimize risk of exposure. If your finances haven’t been adversely impacted by the pandemic, I hope you’ll consider a donation. Thank you.

 

 

March 25, 2020

As interventions against COVID-19 increase – including Governor Inslee’s call to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” – Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity continues to flex its operation for the protection of our community.

We know we aren’t alone in wrestling with difficult decisions and navigating so much uncertainty. However, Tacoma Habitat will continue building for families who need the strong foundation of safe, affordable housing so long as there is need.

The following is our current state of operation.


In the Habitat Stores

Effective at 6PM on Wednesday, March 25, all three Habitat Stores will be closed (Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup) – including retail shopping, donation drop-offs, and pick-ups.

Previously scheduled donation pick-ups will be honored, but no new pick-up appointments will be made. We are working to help our staff impacted by the closure, providing resources and coaching where needed.

On Construction Sites

Site managers continue to build. There are three staff members at Tyler Court, each assigned to a different lot to ensure proper social distancing measures are being met. There is also one staff member working on a property in Key Peninsula.

During these unprecedented times, our Site Managers are truly the heroes of our organization, helping to uphold our commitment to families awaiting their forever homes.

In the Office

The majority of our administrative staff continues to work remotely, as their roles allow. At this point, our office is closed to the public and all appointments are virtual, using technology to bring us face to face with our partners, donors and home buyers.


Despite our best efforts, the impact of the pandemic will no doubt affect our projects and our financial position. But we are taking a note from Habitat homeowners, demonstrating perseverance and grace under pressure even in uncharted territory. I am proud of my team, and grateful for our Board of Directors, and all of you.

Let’s continue to take care of one another. Stay safe and healthy.

Click here to see how you can continue to be a Habitat Hero during this time.

 

 

March 16, 2020

As the virus causes greater impact across our region, we continue to make adjustments to how we work and live.

At our daily briefing, the Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity leadership team determined to take further action for the protection of our staff, volunteers and greater community.


In the office

Effective tomorrow, March 17, our office will be open by appointment only. Most of our administrative staff will be working remotely, as their roles allow.

On the construction site

We are suspending volunteer opportunities through April 24. Our staff will continue to build – under increased safety measures – as we work diligently to provide affordable housing to partner homebuyers who are depending on us.

In the Habitat Stores

At this time, our three Habitat Stores remain open for business and our trucks continue to pick up donations curbside. However, we are also suspending volunteer opportunities through April 24 in the Stores. Should you drop off a donation at one of our locations, you will be asked to remain in your vehicle while our staff unloads. You will also notice our Store employees wearing gloves – a product of new policies around sanitation and hygiene.


Now more than ever, it is important that we care for each other. These are uncertain times and many of our neighbors are facing hardship as a result of the pandemic. I appreciate your patience as we all strive to limit exposure to the virus and care for the most vulnerable.

Thank you for your continued support Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity.

 

March 13, 2020

Like many of you, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity is carefully monitoring the COVID-19 developments, looking to the Center for Disease Control and Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department for recommendations and best practice.

As a social distancing measure, our leadership team has made the decision to:

Otherwise, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity is conducting its normal business. At this time, no member of our team is experiencing symptoms or is known to have been exposed to COVID-19.

We continue to build homes for low and moderate income families, and our Habitat Stores remain open for business.

Even so, it is imperative that we take care of one another and we are actively taking steps to keep our employees, volunteers, and customers safe.

On the construction site

Tacoma Habitat has a culture of safety at every build site. As always, we are focusing on preventing construction related injuries but have taken the following measures against the threat of COVID-19.

  • Emphasis on hand washing and the addition of a new hand washing station
  • Increased frequency of disinfecting common spaces and touch points
  • Encouraging volunteers to bring their own safety gloves to site

 In the Habitat Stores

  • Extra time and effort is allocated to clean the Stores
  • Increased frequency of disinfecting common spaces and touch points
  • Posted notices throughout encouraging customers and employees to take precautions such as covering sneezes/coughs and frequent handwashing

Throughout our organization, we are encouraging volunteers and staff to:

  • Stay home when ill or at the first sign of oncoming illness
  • Use a tissue or elbow to cover sneezes or coughs
  • Avoid touching their faces
  • Regularly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Disinfect shared spaces and frequently touched surfaces

As we keep pace with the dynamic and evolving situation, we will post updates to this page with any changes to our status. Rest assured that the safety and well-being of our staff, volunteers and homeowners will always be at the heart of every decision we make, and we continue to actively update staff on preventative practices and preparedness plans.

With the deepest respect and utmost care for our staff, volunteers, homeowners and community, we trust reason over rumor and choose peace over panic. We hope you and your families stay healthy.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during these extraordinary and unprecedented times.

 

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