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Coronavirus

Housing industry bands together to navigate COVID-19

Companies find ways to support team members and customers

The housing industry is a community-driven industry. As one of the largest sectors in the country, it’s made up of friends, family members and neighbors, along with many other people in the community around you, who are all working together to fuel the American dream of homeownership. 

Whether it’s your loan officer who is also your sibling’s best friend or your title agent who happens to attend the same gym as you, these industry workers are part of your local tribe and care about the betterment of your hometown as much as you do.

This is why the housing industry sprang into action to help its workers, customers and borrowers when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. While there are still a lot of unknowns about the coronavirus and its long-term impact on housing and homeowners, the housing industry quickly united together to help people inside and outside of the space navigate the rapidly developing challenges. 

The outpouring of support from the industry to assist impacted borrowers, struggling renters, discouraged employees and dedicated front-line workers continues to offer some hope during a very tumultuous period. The following is only a handful of the ongoing efforts from many companies in the industry that are stepping up to solve the growing challenges born out of the virus. 

Dallas Builders Association

The construction industry sits in a unique position since it shares some supplies with the medical industry, most notably its use of N95 respirator masks. N95 respirator masks are extremely important since they are designed to achieve a very close facial fit and block at least 95% of very small test particles. This means that they not only help block concrete dust for construction workers but they also help protect against the coronavirus. 

Following an announcement from Vice President Mike Pence asking construction companies to donate their stocks of N95 respirator masks to local hospitals and stop ordering more for the time being, the Dallas Builders Association announced it partnered with the Greater Fort Worth Builders Association and TEXO, along with the local North Texas County Medical Societies, to host an ongoing industry drive. The association claimed that since this drive involves the collection of necessary supplies and delivery to others, it is exempted from the Dallas County “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. The Dallas Builders Association urged the construction industry to come together to join in the fight against COVID-19 by donating their respirator equipment, masks and protective wear to help medical professionals on the front lines.

Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp

To help employees remain active as the nation is called to stay in place, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. said it would provide Cybex workout equipment for employees to use in their homes.

The move is part of the company’s commitment to making wellness and cardiovascular health a priority in 2020, and isn’t the first wellness initiative by the company, with other initiatives including body scans and corporate gym facilities with personal training. This initiative, however, is unique since it’s happening as the company’s nearly 7,500 employees have shifted to working remotely due to COVID-19. 

“As part of Fairway’s wellness program, we know how important working out is for people’s health, especially cardiovascular workouts,” Fairway Founder and CEO Steve Jacobson, said. “As a part of our new normal, we are going to offer this [new wellness benefit].”

Houston Realtors

Stepping up to help small businesses financially impacted from the virus, Houston-based Realtor Nicole Lopez Cummins found a way to support people impacted by the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo cancelation.

The rodeo and show was established to promote agriculture by providing a family-friendly live entertainment experience that educates the public, supports Texas youth, and showcases Western heritage. 

The annual 20-day event also directly creates 3,694 jobs and supports a total of 5,133 jobs in Greater Houston, creating $227 million in total economic impact.

When the event was cancelled, Cummins started a Facebook group titled Houston Rodeo Vendors 2020 to support the businesses impacted. 

The page offered a virtual rodeo mall for all the vendors, and within 24 hours, the group had 90,000 members, with items quickly getting purchased. The group was later renamed “Texas Festival Vendors” to support the Austin Rodeo and the Round Top Antiques Fair which have also been cancelled.  

Quicken Loans 

Quicken Loans has long been dedicated to rebuilding its home city – Detroit. The rapid spread of COVID-19 once again spurred the top mortgage company to action to help the community, arming local medical teams with the tools they need to test for the virus. 

To help fight back against the virus, a dedicated group of Quicken Loan’s technology team came together to plan the logistics and infrastructure of a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility for Detroit. Quicken Loans also announced it would coordinate and support the logistics of the drive-through testing facility through a call center operation, along with providing tents from the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament.

“We cannot think of a better way to expend our resources and energy than participating in the testing process,” Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner said in the release. “This is a time for the public and private sectors to come together for a common goal.”

Beyond helping conduct testing, the Quicken Loans Community Fund and Gilbert Family Foundation also announced a combined $1.2 million donation to address the ongoing impact of coronavirus in Detroit.

“Our actions today will impact the trajectory of the coronavirus tomorrow, which is why it is so critical that we, as a philanthropic community, immediately support Detroit residents through direct investments in families and those nonprofits that provide crucial services,” Jennifer Gilbert, co-founder of the Gilbert Family Foundation, said. 

Truist Financial Corp.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Truist Financial Corporation pledged $25 million in philanthropic COVID-19 relief efforts, aiding in the support of basic needs, medical supplies and financial hardship across the nation.

The financial services company laid out the various initiatives it was dedicating the money to, with the most urgent one being the immediate help for critical healthcare organizations. From the $25 million, Truist stated it would donate $1 million each to the CDC Foundation and Johns Hopkins medicine through the Truist Charitable Fund.  

Additionally, the company announced it would dedicate a portion of the money to helping those who help others, donating $3 million to local United Way organizations to fund community-based programs and support services that provide basic needs to people. 

“Truist cares, and we understand our communities, clients and teammates all need immediate help in this growing crisis,” Truist Chairman and CEO Kelly King said. “We’re also looking forward to the recovery stages of this pandemic to ensure the nonprofit organizations our communities count on have the funding they need to help our neighbors get back on solid footing.”

Bank of America

Bank of America inspired the entire industry to find ways to offer relief to borrowers, as the first mega bank to announce it would allow borrowers to pause their mortgage payments. 

The announcement stated that the bank would extend “additional support for consumer and small business clients experiencing hardship from the impact of the coronavirus.” 

This included the ability for Bank of America mortgage and home equity customers to request to defer their payments while the virus crisis rages. The payments would then be added to the end of their loan.

According to the bank, the payment deferral will be available on a case-by-case basis and can be extended on a month-to-month term.

“We’re going to continue to provide convenient access to the important services they count on, and the additional assistance and support they need during this difficult period,” said Dean Athanasia, Bank of America president of consumer and small business. “Our priorities are taking care of our team and each other, and continuing to fulfill our fundamental role serving our fundamental role serving our clients.”

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