Friday, May 15, 2020 / by Ken Couture
It’s been more than a month since the state shut down and Gov. Steve Sisolak closed the Las Vegas Strip because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s a crisis that has been called unprecedented. It’s also caused great fear, not just over health care concerns but of a global economic meltdown.
Still, the Las Vegas Valley homebuilding industry rallied to answer the call to support a community that was reeling from the situation.
In the last month, Southern Nevada Home Builders Association’s members raised $468,100 for Nevada’s COVID-19 Response, Relief and Recovery Task Force. SNHBA CEO Nat Hodgson said his goal was $300,000.
The state task force is a public-private partnership overseen by Gov. Steve Sisolak. It will manage the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. The governor appointed former MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren to head the task force.
“Our industry is still finding ways to assist the greater good, even as we persevere through an uncertain time,” he said in a press release.
The Las Vegas real estate market was just feeling financially fit after the 2009 Great Recession devastated the economy.
“We were having a record first quarter,” Hodgson said.
His group recorded 329 weekly net sales before the crisis hit. That plummeted to 38 the week of April 5. This week net sales climbed to 113.
“We are coming back a bit, and that is some bright news,” he added.
Meanwhile, those in the local building industry continue to aid the community with donations of cash and goods and other charitable efforts.
Some homebuilders, such as KB Homes and Pardee Homes, have rolled out incentives for health care workers, first responders and others who serve the community.
Pardee Division President Klif Andrews said he has noticed homebuyers are viewing their purchases differently than before the crisis.
“They are seeing the value of having a great home as a nest, as a secure place,” he said. “Something is going on with buyers and they are seeing a new home as a safe nest for themselves and their families.”
He said valley homebuilders have traditionally pulled together to address issues that affect the area’s residents.
“This is a good example of how we all are dealing with this crisis together however we can. We have to take care of our communities together,” Andrews said. “This is not the worst thing we have been through in Southern Nevada. I am feeling pretty positive and looking forward to getting back to 100 percent.”
Nicole P. Bloom, division president of Richmond American Homes of Nevada, expressed gratitude for the community and fundraising efforts her industry has been engaged in.
“First, we wanted to express our appreciation for all the essential workers in Las Vegas. From medical personnel, grocery store workers and mail carriers, we truly value these fantastic folks for what they do every day.” she said.
“There was an amazing effort among individuals and homebuilders who raised nearly $500,000 for the Nevada COVID-19 Response Fund, as well as homebuilders and trades donating PPE (personal protective equipment) in Southern Nevada and across the country, as well.”
Longtime Las Vegas homebuilder Richard Plaster, CEO of Signature Homes, is still stuck in Singapore. He became stranded there March 19 just as the global pandemic shutdown hit. He immediately contacted Steve Menzies, the CEO of Las Vegas-based Focus Cos., who was appointed to the new task force. Then, he embarked on an international adventure trying to work Chinese connections to secure PPE for Nevada’s health care workers.
“Well, my efforts were limited and for nought,” he said via text. “I gave the task force some money, partially inspired by the generous gift of Wayne and Catherline Laska.”
Wayne Laska, owner of StoryBook Homes, and his wife, Catherine, donated $100,000 to the Nevada COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. They kicked off the fundraising effort by giving $50,000 and pledging to match other donations made through the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association up to $50,000.
“Thank you to Wayne and Catherine Laska for getting us started, to those who went the extra mile in providing personal protection equipment for our health care workers on the front lines, and to every single person who accepted this challenge with open arms. We appreciate you,” Hodgson said in a prepared statement.
All companies and individuals who contributed include SNHBA, Wayne and Catherine Laska, Signature Homes, The Howard Hughes Corp., Pinnacle Homes, Pardee Homes, Woodside Homes, Pulte Group, Century Communities, D.R. Horton, Beazer Homes, KB Home, Shea Homes, Lennar Homes, Richmond American Homes, Taylor Morrison, Toll Brothers, Las Vegas Electric, Home Builders Research, Jeff Stafford, Chris Carr, Joe Terrano, Janet Love, Jeff Carr, John McLaury, Nat Hodgson, Quincy Edwards, Ryan Breen, Todd Stratton, Rusty Schaeffer, Bonnie Hernandez, Nicole Bloom, Jason Demuth, Joe Ferraro, Anne Law, Gail Payonk, Monica Caruso, Angela Pinley, LeAnn Brennan, Eric Tan, Ryan and Amanda Moss, Curt Friedman, Jennifer Taylor, Ben Bodja, David Goldwater, Kevin Newell, Liz Sedeno and Amy Thill.
Here are a few other companies and organizations that are working to make a difference right now.
HomeAid of Southern Nevada
HomeAid of Southern Nevada is the official outreach partner of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association.
The organization is hosting a virtual drive now through May 31 to benefit Southern Nevada nonprofits in need of supplies, such as baby bottles, diapers and formula. Those interested and able in giving back to HomeAid partners Help of Southern Nevada, Living Grace Home, The Shade Tree, or U.S. Vets can visit HomeAid Southern Nevada’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/homeaidsnv) and make a direct contribution from Amazon, which will deliver supplies directly to that nonprofit.
HomeAid Southern Nevada provides support and assists with community outreach efforts that serve homeless men, women and children in Southern Nevada.
Howard Hughes Corp. and Summerlin
Summerlin developer The Howard Hughes Corp. gave $50,000 to the task force.
In addition, in honor of National Nurses Day, Howard Hughes had 500 cupcakes and some Las Vegas Aviator swag delivered to Summerlin Hospital nurses and staff. Las Vegas Aviator mascots, Spruce Goose and Aviator, were on hand to spread some cheer. Also, the developer planted a giant mobile billboard sign, which expressed gratitude for the nurses, in the hospital parking lot.
Summerlin corporate office had dozens of pizzas delivered to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Summerlin Area Command, Summerlin area fire stations, including Clark County and city of Las Vegas and Summerlin hospital.
Nevada Contractors Association
Nevada Contractors Association CEO Sean Stewart said his group purchased and donated $50,000 in PPE for health care workers through Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick. They have directly donated PPE to a pediatric cancer center, the Clark County Building Department and members in need. The association also purchased 25,000 face coverings and 30,000 personal-size hand sanitizers for workers.
Nevada Subcontractors Association
Kelly Gaines, president of the Nevada Subcontractors Association, reported her organization has collected more than 9,000 N95 masks and 745 pieces of eye protective wear for local health care workers.
BOMA Nevada, the Nevada chapter of the commercial real estate nonprofit organization, has donated $7,500 to aid in COVID-19 relief efforts of The Salvation Army — Southern Nevada.
“Times are hard for everyone right now, and we knew we wanted to give back to our local community and those in need here,” said BOMA Nevada board member Chuck Eller. “We saw all the good The Salvation Army was doing around COVID-19 in addition to the services they provide daily for Nevadans. We are grateful for the work this organization is doing and feel very fortunate to be able to aid in their efforts during this time.”
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