Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) today announced introduction of the Crumbling Foundations Small Business and Homeowners Assistance Act to provide $100 million in direct federal relief to property owners in Connecticut with crumbling foundations.
The bill, introduced by Blumenthal and co-sponsored by Murphy would establish a grant program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to award funding up to $20 million annually over a five year period. Grants would be available to reimburse affected owners of small businesses, condominium associations and homeowners for work to prevent, repair and mitigate damage caused by concrete foundations containing pyrrhotite.
The measure complements a bill also introduced today by Murphy and co-sponsored by Blumenthal to create a similar grant program through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“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.
“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.”
In addition to seeking direct federal aid, as Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, Blumenthal has sought to hold insurance companies’ feet to the fire for their handling of pyrrhotite-related homeowner claims. At a hearing last year, Blumenthal raised serious concerns as to whether insurance handling of the claims have amounted to an illegal deceptive practice.
Blumenthal and Murphy also fought jointly to secure tax relief for crumbling foundation-related repairs. The IRS announced in February it would allow Connecticut homeowners with crumbling foundations to take advantage of a federal tax deduction that provides relief on qualified home repairs through December 2020.
Further, Blumenthal and Murphy have also sought legislation to require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish regulations for acceptable levels of pyrrhotite, and to assist homeowners in detecting, preventing and mitigating damage from the mineral. Blumenthal has sought $5 million in funding for NIST to develop standards and better scientific understanding of the impact of pyrrhotite in concrete.