International Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers General President James P. McCourt recently wrote a letter to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson regarding the role HFIAW members can play in ensuring affordable housing.
McCourt began his letter by detailing the value of mechanical insulation and noted the savings derived from mechanical insulation when heating or cooling a home or apartment building and heating water. Mechanical insulation, he explained, reduces costs, which makes these buildings more affordable to operate.
McCourt then reviewed the health benefits of mechanical insulation.
Properly installed and maintained mechanical insulation reduces mold and condensation, which improves the quality of air in housing facilities. Better air quality reduces the risk and rate of health issues, such as heart disease and arthritis.
He also pointed out the need to incentive energy efficiency.
For some renters, energy costs represent 20 percent or more of their monthly expenses and might even equal the cost of their rent.
“High energy costs are a barrier to housing affordability,” he wrote.
McCourt suggested HUD look at best practices to see where local housing authorities, non-profits and utility companies are working to make housing more energy efficient.
“Investments in mechanical insulation must be a part of any multi-family energy efficiency program,” he said.
In addition to advocating for mechanical insulation, McCourt also advocated for construction and maintenance of public housing facilities by the best-trained, safest and most productive construction workforce.
McCourt said HFIAW members, who work for signatory contractors, complete projects on time and on or under budget.
He then explained the importance of the Davis-Bacon Act, which ensures a fair wage for those building affordable houses. This wage, he points out, helps HFIAW members afford housing for themselves and their families.
Efforts to undermine Prevailing Wage would create many negative effects - including illegal practices such as wage theft, exploitation of undocumented workers, tax fraud, employee misclaffication and more.
The use of unskilled and untrained labor on federal housing projects will cost taxpayers down the road, as low-wage construction workers will likely be on public assistance and require Medicaid.
McCourt closed his letter with a two-pronged suggestion.
First, he encouraged Secretary Carson to promote energy efficiency in order to make housing more affordable through the use of mechanical insulation.
He then reminded Secretary Carson to protect the Davis-Bacon Act and other building trades labor standards.
You can read the entire letter from General President McCourt here. Check back to learn more about what the HFIAW leadership is doing to promote issues important to its membership and the building trades as a whole.