WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced two pieces of legislation on Wednesday to help homeowners in Connecticut burdened by crumbling foundations. In central and eastern Connecticut, homeowners in dozens of towns are dealing with crumbling foundations.
The Aid to Homeowners with Crumbling Foundations Act introduced by Murphy and cosponsored by Blumenthal would provide $100 million over five years from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to states like Connecticut that have created non-profit crumbling foundations assistance funds to repair damage to residential structures due pyrrhotite. The Crumbling Foundations Small Business and Homeowners Assistance Act introduced by Blumenthal and cosponsored by Murphy would create a similar grant program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Last year, the Connecticut General Assembly established a Crumbling Foundations Assistance Fund, whose funds will be administered by a not-for-profit captive insurance company, to allow $100 million in bonding over the next five years to assist homeowners with crumbling foundations. The Aid to Homeowners with Crumbling Foundations Act and the Crumbling Foundations Small Business and Homeowners Assistance Act would provide additional funding over five years to assist homeowners in Connecticut with crumbling foundations repairs.
“I’ve visited the homes of families in Connecticut dealing with crumbling foundations, and the devastation is stunning. These homeowners are trapped – they can’t sell their homes without repairing the damage, but repairs cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Murphy. “Senator Blumenthal and I teamed up together to introduce a package of bills to try to provide some relief to these homeowners. Getting federal funds will no doubt be an uphill fight, but we don’t want to leave any rock unturned. We know this funding won’t solve the whole problem, but we hope it will provide some much-needed relief to families.”
The federal government must provide ample, direct aid to homeowners and businesses with crumbling foundations. I have visited families and business owners who continue to suffer extreme financial and emotional stress-- compounded by the utter failure of our institutions to provide direct aid they need and deserve. Direct federal aid must be a part of the solution, but we also must hold insurance companies accountable for unacceptably denying these homeowners the compensation they are due. I will continue to fight for any and all avenues of assistance to make these homeowners and small businesses whole,” Blumenthal said.
Last week, Murphy secured a commitment from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to work with Murphy to help Connecticut homeowners dealing with crumbling foundations. Murphy also invited Carson to visit Connecticut to hear firsthand from homeowners and to see the damage in-person.
Earlier this year, Murphy and Blumenthal joined U.S. Representatives John Larson (CT-1) and Joe Courtney (CT-2) in leading efforts to prevent Senate Republicans from including a provision in the tax bill that would abolish a critical deduction that provides relief for taxpayers who experience losses on their property – including homeowners in Connecticut with crumbling foundations. Murphy and Blumenthal applauded updated guidance by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that extends the period of time through December 2020 that homeowners have to claim crumbling foundation-related repairs on their federal tax returns. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee also passed a provision led by Murphy and Blumenthal that urges the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish regulations for acceptable levels of pyrrhotite. The provision also directs NIST to provide assistance to homeowners who are interested in detection, prevention, and mitigation of the pyrrhotite mineral.