What the Housing Supply Action Plan Means for Nomadic Workforces

President Biden announced his administration's Housing Supply Action Plan, aiming to ease the effects of market instability and housing costs on the American people over the next five years.

new house in progress
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In May, President Biden announced his administration's Housing Supply Action Plan, which aims to ease the effects of market instability and housing costs on the American people over the next five years.

The plan outlines steps such as improving forms of federal funding through loans for projects like multi-family developments, as well as measures to resolve supply chain disruptions that have slowed the rate of construction.

The story of housing in America has long been complex, at times in crisis, and most recently unpredictable. Mortgage rates have gone up in recent months from historic lows, and national conversations seem to be stalled on bubbles, gas pumps and getting back to work.

Any effort to mitigate the extreme effects seen in the housing market currently should be applauded, but an integral and overlooked element of this issue is those whose jobs aren't dependent on an office, home or screen. Navigating the housing rental market as it stands now is stressful if you have to move, but what about those who have to do so again and again? Construction crews, travel nurses, service members and their families, disaster response teams and nomadic workers in many other industries travel from job site to job site in order to bring home their paycheck and do invaluable work that only their essential skills can do.

Ultimately, a significant portion of the nomadic specialist workforce is left out of this plan — a portion that deserves the same level of support as their stationary counterparts. If not, those same communities may suffer from a shortfall of much-needed health care and infrastructure services.

Unintended Consequences

A number of measures outlined in the plan aim to accelerate the rate of home construction. Specifically, the administration hopes its actions will aid the completion of more homes by the end of the year than in any other since 2006. However, it's important to consider how more homes help nomadic workers.

An increase in housing inventory would in theory provide more options for traveling workforces to choose from, but it could also increase pressure to use more supplemental construction crews on the ground.

While that specific goal points to working with the private sector to resolve issues along the supply chain and improve building techniques, it presents a potential temporary housing paradox. A national push to increase construction creates the possibility that travel crews may be deployed in areas that are not capable of housing them in any reasonably accommodating way.

The housing needs of these construction crews and other workforces always vary by project and location, but in the current housing market and without additional resources to address those unique housing needs, many nomadic professionals will be underserved.

Looking Forward

It's important we think about the potential future of housing, but with a plan this large, there is no guarantee of plan implementation based on its proposed timeline. Services exist now such as workforce housing on-demand, which is already supporting nomadic workers and should be supported in future housing plans. With a focus on both immediate and long-term actions, the administration's plan sets a time frame for the next five years overall. If current trends hold, and inventory continues to lag demand, what supplemental measures may come down the pipeline?

Additionally, some aspects of the proposal are stalled in Congress, with many originating from the House-passed budget reconciliation bill. If passed, funding would increase to support construction apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs to expand the workforce the industry has to draw upon.

While all of these potential workers won't end up a part of the nomadic workforce, a percentage of them will. Looking ahead, programming that focuses on the specifics of the nomadic work lifestyle would better inform incoming professionals.

The Growth of Rural Housing

On a more positive note, while the plan may lack specifics for nomadic workers, it does detail support for the construction of 8,000 rural multi-family housing units. It may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but it is a marked improvement to rural housing inventory, which traditionally has been less abundant. Any increase in that inventory is a win for travel workers placed outside metropolitan areas, as well as current residents.

A concerning trend has seen large investors hoarding properties in small towns across the country, which has only further exacerbated unavailability and makes it difficult for those in rural areas to secure due housing.

At the halfway point, 2022 has proven to be as intricate as the years that precede it. Optimism within the housing market is great, but we can't ignore the years-long impact these crises can have. The housing bubble and subsequent crash of the late 2000s continue to play out today despite the fact nearly fifteen years have passed.

In the coming months, nomadic workers will continue to support crucial work like the pandemic response, infrastructure improvements and housing construction, to name just a few. In that time, the President's plan will start to settle into effect, and, hopefully, bring stability and relief to those struggling right now. What I hope to see, moving forward, are expanded opportunities and support for the nomadic workforce providing integral services across the country.

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