Tariffs to Raise Cost of Rebuilding After Hurricane Florence

By Nelson D. Schwartz : nytimes – excerpt

When the floodwaters from Hurricane Florence recede and rebuilding kicks into high gear, homeowners and businesses will face an additional burden as tariffs imposed by the Trump administration drive up the cost of construction materials.

Homebuilders and contractors say the administration’s trade policy will add to the price increases that usually follow natural disasters. In addition to materials like lumber, steel and aluminum, the United States will impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports next week, including countertops, furniture and gypsum, a key ingredient in drywall. All told, some builders estimate that construction costs could be 20 to 30 percent higher than they would have been without these tariffs.

“We’re all going to pay the price for it in terms of higher construction costs,” said Alan Banks, president of the North Carolina Home Builders Association…

With most of the damage coming from flooding rather than wind, insurers will pick up only a small portion of the cost of rebuilding. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies exclude flood damage, and out of the millions of homes in the Carolinas, only 335,000 are covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.(more)

Between the floods, fires and other disasters, the US need to rebuild housing where it was lost just to sustain itself and its communities. We are set for a huge new homeless population unless we act fast.


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