More concrete aid may be on the way

Mar. 30—As another milestone is reached in Connecticut's crumbling foundation crisis, the federal government soon could provide more relief for affected homeowners in Connecticut and Massachusetts, while those just over the border continue to learn from the crisis here.

U.S. Rep. Joseph D. Courtney, D-2nd District, joined local leaders and advocates over the weekend to see the first condominium complex covered by the Crumbling Foundations Solutions Indemnity Co. lifted into the air to remove and replace its crumbling foundation.

Units at Willington Ridge Condominiums are the first of what is expected to be several complexes helped through CFSIC, the captive insurance company fixing foundations.

Along with state bonding and a surcharge on certain homeowner insurance policies, both of which are supporting CFSIC, the federal government has ensured tax relief for those fixing their foundations, and more relief could be on the way.


Vernon 370 claimants

Tolland 220 claimants

South Windsor 148 claimants

Willington 116 claimants

Manchester 163 claimants

Stafford 150 claimants

Ellington 97 claimants

Coventry 76 claimants

Ashford 33 claimants

Somers 40 claimants

—CFSIC 2020 annual report

As part of President Joe Biden's roughly $3 trillion infrastructure bill, Courtney said during a virtual meeting with local officials Monday that he expects significant federal resources for crumbling foundations.

While the Republican tax bill passed in 2017 eliminated a property casualty loss deduction, Courtney said he hopes it will be reinstated as part of Biden's infrastructure plan, as well as funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which could provide more funding directly to CFSIC.

"We're talking millions of dollars," he said, adding that the support of the White House is more likely to bring the measure to fruition. "In my opinion, this is real. ... There is going to be a housing piece to the infrastructure bill."

The influx of funding would be a welcome addition to CFSIC's finances as it is slated to receive the final installment of $20 million in bonding this year.

According to CFSIC officials, HUD's Community Development Block Grant could be used to supplement funds made available through the captive. They added that some homeowners have withdrawn their applications through CFSIC because they couldn't raise enough money to pay costs not covered through the company.

In many cases, they said, excess costs are less than $10,000, which could be covered through federal HUD dollars.

Courtney, of Vernon, praised the activism of affected homeowners in Connecticut, which their counterparts in Massachusetts aim to duplicate as crumbling foundations are proving to be a widespread problem there as well.

Courtney is encouraging Massachusetts residents to "be persistent," adding that "more voices from more states" could help drum up support for federal assistance.

"Persistence is the name of the game when you're talking about this issue," he said.

Connecticut Coalition Against Crumbling Basements President Timothy Heim said "very intense emotions" helped encourage him and others over the past six years, leading to support from state and federal lawmakers.

"It's a team effort; everybody's doing what they can to help and it's working," Heim said, but added that more funding is needed. "Connecticut's made a lot of progress, but we're going to need more funding."

Heim had his Willington house fixed through CFSIC in June.

Michelle Loglisci, Heim's counterpart in Massachusetts, admitted Monday she and her neighbors are "fairly new to the game" compared to homeowners in Connecticut, but are using Connecticut's success as a blueprint for their crisis.

Loglisci said she modeled her group after Heim's and is facing the same problem those in Connecticut did years ago — not enough residents coming forward to urge action from lawmakers.

"We're just asking people to step up," she said.

The crisis, she said, "is expanding" in Massachusetts, and there is pending legislation that would provide protections for homebuyers, set quarry standards, and waive permit fees for those able to afford to fix their own foundations.

The ultimate goal, Loglisci said, would be to establish a captive insurance company like CFSIC in Massachusetts, which was made possible in Connecticut only because of tireless advocates like Heim and Vernon resident Debra McCoy, who also was integral in enabling condominium complexes to be included in CFSIC funding.

Meanwhile, Trinity College professor Jonathan Gourley said Monday that he continues to work to identify whether concrete could contain a safe level of pyrrhotite, the mineral causing foundations to deteriorate.

If determined, he said, some relief could be provided to homeowners through insurance companies that no longer would have to worry about covering the cost of crumbling foundations.

"There are low-risk situations," Gourley said.

During session, Eric can be found at the Capitol in Hartford, reporting the information that readers want and need to know. For insights and updates on legislation, politicians, committees, and commissions that affect the entire state of Connecticut, follow Eric on Twitter: @BednerEric.