Assisting residents impacted by crumbling foundations
Over the last two years, an alarming number of home owners in central and northeastern Connecticut have discovered that the foundations of their homes have been deteriorating and threatening the structural integrity of their house.
After media reports appeared last year regarding this problem, my office began to receive calls from constituents asking for help. During that time, I visited a number of homes in Willington and Vernon to see the issue firsthand. Like many who have witnessed this problem, I was shocked at the degree of the damage many of these homeowners are already facing. Indeed, some of these homes are in the neighborhood I live in Vernon and have affected family relatives.
Over the last four months, my staff and I have attended several public meetings in Vernon, Stafford Springs, and Tolland to learn more about the extent of the problem. In addition, I have spoken to some of the attorneys who are handling pending legal claims for residents seeking compensation for the damage. I have also worked closely with a number of the leading advocates, especially Connecticut Coalition Against Crumbling Basements, who have been doing a great job of organizing public forums and engaging elected officials.
Clearly, the message I have received, as well as other local, state and federal officials, is that there is potentially a widespread impact on the real estate market in both Hartford County and Tolland County. This is a critical situation for middleclass homeowners because a home is often the largest asset a person or family will ever own. Over the last several months, I have been working closely with state officials like Lt. Governor Wyman, members of the Connecticut General Assembly, and Jonathan Harris, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection on this complicated problem.
Right now, a vigorous three-pronged investigation led by Commissioner Harris and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen is underway to determine the law and the facts in order to institute a plan for moving forward. The first task is to definitively identify the cause of the deteriorating concrete used in the home foundations. Consumer Protection has taken numerous core samples, and thorough testing is underway. That analysis, which is expected to be completed by the fall, should help determine the scope of the problem, and the scale of the response that will be needed.
Over the last few months, my staff has been working with the Congressional Research Service and federal agencies to find possible federal programs that may be applicable in this case, including federal housing programs, aid through emergency response and small business agencies, as well as insurance-based and legal options. While it is too early to rule options in or out, it is clear that this problem is going to require a robust and coordinated response on a number of levels. I will continue working with state and federal agencies to determine what government aid may be necessary once the investigation is finalized.
One critical issues right now is obtaining an accurate assessment of how many homeowners may be impacted by crumbling foundations, and to determine how widespread the problem is across the state. To date, only a relatively small number of homeowners have registered with DCP — without more information on how many homes are impacted and the conditions they are facing, efforts to secure help and support for homeowners will be more difficult. Governor Malloy recently said: “I understand that it’s very hard for people who are having [this] problem to come forward and register, but I don’t know how we’re going to resolve this if we don’t start putting our arms around the size of the problem.”
We need every homeowner who has reason to believe that their home could have a deteriorating foundation to register with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (CDCP) by filling out a complaint form through their website: www.ct.gov/DCP/concrete. In addition, CDCP has created an online information sheet with basic resources that homeowners should be aware of if they believe they have an affected foundation.
I will be sure to keep you updated as further information and resources for homeowners become available. In the meantime, I have posted a list of resources for residents affected by this issue on my website, which you can find here: http://courtney.house.gov/crumbling-concrete-foundations/. For assistance, you may call the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection at 1–800–842–2649, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also contact my Norwich office at (860) 886–0139 if I can be of any assistance or you have any questions.