Local mayors ask Gov. Inslee to consider making residential construction essential

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SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and several other mayors from neighboring cities are asking Gov. Jay Inslee to reconsider his designation of residential construction as a non-essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a letter addressed to Inslee, Woodward and other local leaders reference Eastern Washington’s need for affordable housing, especially when it comes to single-family homes.

According to the letter, Eastern Washington has a less than 2% rental vacancy rate, making it particularly difficult for families in between homes to find a place while waiting for theirs to finish being built. 

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“By enacting restrictions on single-family residential construction through the ‘Stay Home, Stay Health’ order, the affordability gap and economic divide in our community will grow during a time when unity and flexibility is so important,” the letter reads, in part. 

The letter also references a memo from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which deemed residential construction as an essential and critical function during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“The City of Spokane recognizes the need to ensure social distancing measures to flatten the curve and save lives during the health emergency we are facing,” the letter reads, “and we have received assurance from the development community of their ability to maintain safe social distancing practices while continuing this vital construction service.” 

The letter is signed by Woodward, as well as Spokane Valley Mayor Ben Wick, Liberty Lake Mayor Shane Brickner, Millwood Mayor Kevin Freeman, Airway Heights Mayor Kevin Richey, Cheney Mayor Chris Grover, and Medical Lake Mayor Shirley Maike.

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