MURPHY SECURES COMMITMENT FROM TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO WORK TO HELP CONNECTICUT HOMEOWNERS WITH CRUMBLING FOUNDATIONS

Click here to view video of Murphy’s remarks.

WASHINGTON — During a U.S. Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) secured a commitment from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 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.

Murphy said, “We have, in our state, up to 34,000 homes that were made with a faulty kind of foundation due to the presence of a mineral called pyrrhotite. And it’s caused these foundations to slowly fall apart.I wanted to bring it to your attention and ask that you and I have a further dialogue about it to see if there are some creative ways that HUD and HUD’s expertise can help us deal with this problem going forward.”

Carson responded, “That problem was actually recently brought to my attention by the staff who’ve already started focusing attention on that. It’s a very valid issue and yes, we would be very happy to work with you on that.”

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. 

Highlights from Murphy’s exchange with Carson are below:

Murphy: “Thank you very much, Madame Chairwoman. Welcome, Mr. Secretary.

“Mr. Secretary, I want to bring to you attention a really pressing issue in Connecticut that I know the Department if aware of, but I don’t know whether or not there’s a way to get you more involved in it. That is an issue in Connecticut that has come to be known as crumbling foundations. We have, in our state, up to 34,000 homes that were made with a faulty kind of foundation due to the presence of a mineral called pyrrhotite. And it’s caused these foundations to slowly fall apart.

Insurers refuse to make good on claims because it is a very, sort of, long lasting problem that doesn’t happen all at once. FEMA has twice denied our governor’s request for federal disaster declaration. As I said, we’re talking about 35,000 homes in Connecticut and our worry – given that this was a type of foundation that was built potentially throughout the region over a period of 10-15 years – is that there could be many other states that are subject to this problem as well.

I wanted to bring it to your attention and ask that you and I have a further dialogue about it to see if there are some creative ways that HUD and HUD’s expertise can help us deal with this problem going forward. Part of the issue is that the manufacturer of the concrete didn’t violate the law because there really were no regulations regarding the kind of materials that you put into it.

So I wanted to get your commitment to have a further conversation about it, to hear some of my ideas and how HUD could be helpful, and to see if there are ways that we can work together. 

Carson: That problem was actually recently brought to my attention by the staff who’ve already started focusing attention on that. It’s a very valid issue and yes, we would be very happy to work with you on that. 

Murphy: Great and I’d be, of course, happy to host you in Connecticut at some point to take a look at this problem for yourself.

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