By TIM ROWDEN
For the seventh year, St. Louis unions involved in building homes have created a pool to help home buyers purchase 100-percent union-built homes as part of the Neighborhoods Built by your Neighbors program, a unique partnership between participating unions and St. Louis area homebuilders.
Unions participating in the Union Homebuilding Partnership have contributed $930,000 to this year’s program, the only one of its kind in the United States.
Since it was launched in 2011, the program has built 1,680 homes housing approximately 5,000 people. Participating unions have contributed almost $7 million to the greater St. Louis community through the Union Homebuilding Partnership.
The Neighborhoods Built by your Neighbors program runs through May and features:
- Cash incentives ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. to be used at closing for anything the homeowner desires, including major upgrades like finishing a basement, a brick front, different flooring, etc. The specific incentive amount is based on the home’s final cost.
- 100-percent union-built homes, no exceptions.
- Cash can also be used to reduce an interest rate or cover closing costs.
- Availability in the Missouri communities of the six participating homebuilders.
- First-come, first-served until the $930,000 is exhausted.
- A commitment by participating homebuilders that they will ensure all work on all their homes is 100 percent union for a full year.
Participating unions include Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1, Sheet Metal Workers (SMART) Local 36, Greater St. Louis Construction Laborers, Cement Mason’s Local 527, Painters and Allied Trades District Council 58 and the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council
The contribution from each union are based on the number of hours each trade has in building the home.
Participating homebuilders include Bridgewater Communities, Fischer & Frichtel, McBride & Son Homes, McKelvey Homes, Payne Family Homes and Simon Homes. Builders have spent approximately $1 million marketing the program
MAKING HOME OWNERSHIP POSSIBLE
“The stimulus program put the dream of owning a home within reach even during the depths of the Great Recession,” said John F. Eilermann Jr., chairman and CEO of McBride & Son Companies. “With the economy strengthening, we want to sustain momentum and make home ownership possible for those on the margins, including Millennials who are beginning to embrace home ownership.”
Millennials were once thought to shun home ownership, but Money Magazine recently reported on a Bank of America report showing that Millennials, ages 18-34, now plan to own a home.
INTRODUCING A NEW GENERATION TO UNION CRAFTSMANSHIP
“We see this as not only a way to stimulate home buying, but to introduce another generation of home owners to the enduring value of our electrical and communications work” said Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1. IBEW and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association are uniting to support the program though its Electrical Connection partnership.
“We are pleased to be engaged in the stimulus program again as it is a great opportunity to showcase the quality, affordability and value that professional contractors employing well-trained union construction trades can deliver,” said Doug Martin, CEO, of the St. Louis Chapter of NECA. “NECA contractors and the IBEW work very closely with the homebuilders to thoughtfully plan and deliver residential electrical systems that integrate state-of-the-art technology with safe, reliable, code-compliant installation expertise.”
“The biggest thing that we like about it is we can partner up with these different homebuilders and know that we’re going to be the craft of choice for the plumbing part of it, which is key to our residential side,” said John O’Mara, business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562.
“You’re plumbing system is the heartbeat of your home. If a homeowner has a bad plumbing system put in, it’s nothing but problems. By us being a part of this, we can guarantee the system that we put in is put in right.
“It also helps our members,” O’Mara said. “A lot of our members buy these homes.”
It takes about 1,900 union hours to build the typical new home. At an average of $5,000 per home, the Neighborhoods Built by your Neighbors program will contribute to 240 additional sales equaling 456,000 union hours. That’s the equivalent to 217 full time union jobs for a year!
Over the course of now seven years – after this season – the Neighborhoods Built by your Neighbors program will have generated approximately 3,192,000 man-hours of union work.
“Our local unions are truly putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to keeping people working,” said Ken Kruse, president of Payne Family Homes. “They have committed nearly $1 million in cash for use at closing to home buyers. That really says a lot.”
‘AN AMAZING DEAL FOR BUYERS’
“It’s real cash for use at closing and it’s in addition to St. Louis Union Homebuilding Partnership Builder’s best deal,” stated Jim Brennan, owner of McKelvey Homes. “It’s really an amazing deal for buyers.”
“This program is about neighbors coming together to make a difference,” stated John Fischer of Fischer & Frichtel Custom Homes. “The fact is when union trades people are working they are buying other goods and services and the economy grows.”
THE NAME SAYS IT ALL
“Beyond helping people entering the home buying market who otherwise would not be able to afford a new home, the program is all about showing that good paying union jobs lead to more people buying homes and stimulating the economy as a whole, “ said Al Bond, executive secretary-treasurer of St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council. “The name of the program says it all ‘Neighborhoods Built by your Neighbors’.”
You can learn more about the program by visiting STLunionhomebuilders.com.