Some homeowners across the ravaged Texas coastline say they are still waiting for Hurricane Harvey repairs, but finding skilled workers to do them is reportedly proving difficult for many construction businesses:
According to labor group Worker’s Defense Project, as many as half of construction workers in Texas are undocumented, but the current political climate is changing this reality.
While many hail crackdowns on undocumented workers as progress, Harvey repairs are left undone.
Houston became caught in the crossfire of a construction worker shortage before the storm, and Harvey’s destruction only exacerbated the skilled worker shortfall.
Houston can't cleanup & rebuild without undocumented workers – 50% of Texas construction force. Happy Labor Day. https://t.co/7x2QC6ftxB
— Hank Plante (@HankPlante) September 4, 2017
Immediately after the storm, worker shortages became a pressing issue — one still existing half a year later.
Bloomberg reported last week employers are hiking wages for undocumented workers by 45 percent in order to retain them after Harvey, despite Texas’ tightening deportation measures.
With many homes still awaiting repairs, construction crews are said to be needed throughout the city; unemployment levels are already low, leaving few people to fill the needed jobs.
“I could hire three or four hundred people if I could find them,” Stan Marek, owner of a Houston remodeling company, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “They’re just not coming in, and the undocumented can’t come in.”
Marek stated further all of his 1,000 employees are legally vetted.
However, undocumented workers with the necessary skills face added risks due to the state’s immigration politics:
“There’s ultimately an economic price to be paid for this labor shortage,” Jose Garza, executive director of the Workers Defense Project, said in another interview with Bloomberg. “Governor Abbott’s immigration policies and Donald Trump’s immigration policies are wreaking havoc.”
In the meantime, some Houston residents are reportedly turning to volunteers to help rebuild their homes:
People are coming to the city from all over the country to help make repairs, including 600 Amish and Mennonite men and women who traveled to the area to put their building skills to work.
Teams from all over the country say they already helped repair 120 homes with donated supplies, saving some homeowners around $2,000, and more volunteers are expected to make trips to the Bayou City in the coming months:
“The Mennonites, they’re committed to come, as long as we want them to come and we have work for them,” volunteer organizer Scooter Buck said in an interview with KHOU. “Just when I think we’re going to run out of homes, we’ll get two or three. We’ve gone as far as down Memorial, to Spring.”