Senators release proposal to help those with crumbling foundatio - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Senators release proposal to help those with crumbling foundations

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Sens. Cathy Osten and Tim Larson announce a plan for homeowners with crumbling foundations. (WFSB photo) Sens. Cathy Osten and Tim Larson announce a plan for homeowners with crumbling foundations. (WFSB photo)
Crumbling concrete renders Vernon couple's condo virtually worthless (WFSB) Crumbling concrete renders Vernon couple's condo virtually worthless (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB/AP) -

Two Democratic Connecticut senators are hoping municipalities will create new loan programs to help homeowners cover the high cost of repairing or replacing their crumbling foundations.

Sens. Cathy Osten of Sprague and Tim Larson of East Hartford unveiled proposed legislation Friday that allows affected towns to adopt, by a local ordinance, a loan program that could be funded with municipal bonds. They liken it to how municipalities fund local road repairs.

Osten calls the draft legislation "a piece of the puzzle," adding how lawmakers are still pushing for federal financial assistance. She hopes the loans might become grants, considering homeowners face repairs averaging $150,000 to $200,000.

The stories come in week after week of stunned homeowners finding out that a mineral mixed in with the concrete in their foundation, which is causing it to slowly crumble beneath their feet.

The latest came this week when more than 20 homeowners at the RyeField condo complex in Vernon learned their investments were deemed virtually worthless.

Tim Helm is one of the homeowners.

"I have no equity in my home. My house is now worthless and I can't afford to pay a mortgage twice," Heim said.

Heims said people are spending double to fix the problem.

"A homeowner pays $200,ooo and now they're paying $400,000. Doesn't make any sense, does it?" Heim said.

The average repair is between $150,000 to upwards of $200,000.

It all stems from the mineral phyrrhotite. The Department of Consumer Protection said that a Willington quarry had high levels of the mineral when it supplied concrete companies.  

Years later, it causes the concrete to slowly start to crack and crumble. A state investigation found the concrete supplier did nothing wrong at the time, and FEMA has declined to take the case. That has left thousands of homeowners paying a mortgage, for an essentially worthless home.

Officials want the loan program to cover the high costs of repairing the damage.

The interest and repayment would depend on each town. They money would come from municipal bonds.

But to take effect it would need to go to a public vote in each town.

"I believe this gets people to the table. I believe it's a manageable project and manageable solution," Senator Tim Larson said.

The problem is happening to homes built between 1970 and 1980. Lawmakers said this will continue to be a growing as time goes on.

"People aren't going to come forward unless there is a reason for them or a way for them to get a financial recovery of the expenses of repairing," Senator Cathy Osten said.

But for homeowners, they think they need to keep brainstorming.

"I think it's a start,a loan. Just, the victims can't afford it. The money has to come from somewhere. We are the middle class, we've done everything right we are the type of families who got a second job," Helm said.

Anyone effected is urged to file a report and contact the Department of Consumer Protection

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.