Home improvement retailers aid flood victims
Several home improvement retailers are coming to the aid of flood-ravaged communities in the Midwest by contributing money and supplies and serving as cash donation sites.
Lowe’s, Home Depot and Wal-Mart are among the big-box retailers helping rebuild communities devastated by storms and flooding that started in early June and have forced thousands from their homes across six states.
Even as reports that the flood waters have begun to subside hit the airwaves on June 23, Lowe’s stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin continued to serve as official cash donation sites for the United Way 2008 Midwest Flood Recovery Fund. This fund was created on June 16 to support long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts to areas devastated by the floods, the company’s Web site said.
Through July 21, Lowe’s will match in-store customer donations up to a total of $100,000 — donations that will be used to help the Red Cross address immediate needs such as food and shelter and to aid local United Way chapters in longer term recovery efforts.
Mary Kay Leonard, group vp-investor relations at United Way of America said Lowe’s is a long-time partner of the United Way. Lowe’s stores have worked with the organization for more than 20 years on a variety of projects, including disaster relief, product donation and donations to the annual campaign.
Earlier in June, Wal-Mart responded to the crisis by committing $500,000 in cash and merchandise donations to assist with flood relief in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Longtime Wal-Mart partners in the area of disaster response, the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army will each receive a portion of the commitment. Currently, Wal-Mart is working with both organizations to provide food, water and other life-sustaining products to stricken areas.
“Given the magnitude and the devastation caused by these recent floods, it is important that we step up our relief efforts and help those who have been affected,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation.
On June 20, The Chrysler Foundation donated $100,000 in flood relief supplies to the Serve the City Resource Group, which has coordinated volunteers to help unload, organize and distribute cleanup supplies to damaged neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The goods were purchased at Home Depot and Wal-Mart stores in the Cedar Rapids area, and Home Depot offered The Chrysler Foundation a 40 percent discount on the materials, which allowed the organization to purchase additional items. Meanwhile, the Wal-Mart staff packed, loaded and coordinated a staging area for items purchased from its store.
In addition, at the end of 2008, Home Depot will also give 1.5 percent of the total of items purchased by The Chrysler Foundation to the Serve the City Resource Group.
NAHB urges Congress to pass housing stimulus bill
Trying to spur Congress into action on housing stimulus legislation before its July 4 recess, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has placed “An Open Letter to Congress” ad in The Washington Post and USA Today, as well as two of the most widely read publications on Capitol Hill, Roll Call and Politico.
Under the headline “A Time for Leadership,” NAHB president and West Virginia home builder Sandra Dunn writes, “The landmark housing stimulus legislation now before both the House and Senate would help end the downward housing spiral that is the biggest threat to the health of our economy.”
Acentral component of this legislation is a temporary home buyer tax credit to stimulate home purchases by qualified first-time buyers, which the NAHB believes would help reduce excess supply in housing markets.
“Housing is in the grips of the most crippling downturn since the Great Depression, consumer confidence has plunged, economic growth has slowed to a crawl and unemployment lines are growing longer,” the letter continues. “This is not the time for demagoguery or partisanship. It is the time for flexibility and compromise. It is the time for action.”
NAHB executive vp and CEO Jerry Howard called the temporary home buyer tax credit “the best stimulative measure — it will get buyers off the fence, shore up home prices and halt the downward spiral in the housing market.”
This legislation also includes several other provisions to help revive housing and the economy, including the following: FHA modernization; reform of housing government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; expansion of the mortgage revenue bond program; and enhancement of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to help spur production of much needed affordable rental housing.
Wolseley opens green building showcase in United Kingdom
In an effort to accelerate the United Kingdom’s move into green construction, Wolseley has opened a 6,800-square-foot showcase to display 170 types of products including photovoltaics, micro-wind, sedum roof; e-glazing, natural lighting and insulation; green flooring coverings; combines heat and power; rainwater harvesting; biomass; ground source heat pump; engineered timber; low energy lighting; water saving devices; solar thermal; and sustainable drainage.
Built at the company’s 18-acre site in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, England, at a cost of $3.2 million pounds, the building is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. Products featured in the two-story building are currently available through Wolseley’s 1,800 branch network in the U.K. Specially trained staff is on hand to provide visitors with information and guidance on appropriate materials for specific projects, from single-family homes to large-scale commercial developments.
Wolseley is one of the world’s largest distributors of building materials, with operations in 27 countries throughout Europe and North America. In the United States, Stock Building Supply and Ferguson are part of Wolseley North America.