PLEASANT GROVE, Ala. (WIAT) — The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shortage of lumber and other building supplies, creating challenges for many builders.
For the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham, the problems began in January. After closing off all application opportunities last year, leaders hoped to reopen their services in 2021. But when 70 families applied in 10 days, they had to close applications again.
“We didn’t want to take the risk of approving a lot of families and then two years later they still be on a list waiting on their house to be built,” Habitat President and CEO Charles Moore said. “It’s just so uncertain at this point.”
Moore said the level of demand is much higher than what he typically sees and with material shortages, the building process is taking much longer. Of the 70 homes approved, only 12 are under construction. He said that if it weren’t for the shortages, building might have been finished by now. However, materials are now both expensive and hard to find in a timely manner.
“Where we would typically build a house in about six weeks, we can’t make those kinds of promises because we don’t know: can we get the materials, can we get the volunteers, can we afford the materials, if they’re available, to make it affordable for the family,” Moore said.
None of the homes are complete while some will take several more weeks. Moore hopes to finish most of the 12 homes in progress by the end of the summer. Then, Habitat might be able to reopen the application process.
“We’re resilient, Habitat is resilient, our families are resilient,” he said. “And we’re going to do everything we can to follow through on the commitments that we make on a day-to-day basis to these families.”
Moore hopes to have 25 homes built by the end of the year, but with all the uncertainty surrounding building supplies, he said it’s hard to know if that’s possible.