The United States Post Office has been attempting to reduce or eliminate sidewalk and curbside delivery of mail to individual homes, especially in new subdivisions. Instead, the Post Office now wants to deliver mail primarily to centralized or “cluster” mail boxes, each serving multiple homes in a development.
So far, implementation of this policy has varied across the country, as local post offices were initially given considerable discretion on the matter. In order to investigate how widespread the practice has become, NAHB included a question on the topic in its March survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The March HMI question asked builders simply if they had encountered cluster mail box requirements imposed by the local post office in any of the subdivisions where they have built homes. In response, 64 percent of builders said yes, they had encountered cluster mail box requirements, and 36 percent said no.
Encounters with cluster mail boxes have been particularly common in the West Census Region. In the March HMI survey, 95 percent of builders in the West reported encountering cluster mail box requirements—compared to 59 percent in the Northeast and Midwest, and 54 percent in the South.
Is NAHB doing anything about cluster mailboxes? Last year, 2017, was the first time that this has become an issue for single family homes in Columbus Ohio.
NAHB has been actively following this issue and recently updated the online Mailbox Delivery Toolkit on .org to explain evolving USPS guidance on cluster mailboxes. We are currently assessing a variety of legislative, legal, and policy strategies that we will be reporting on at the Midyear Meeting in Portland.