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Housing Commissioner confident Homeowner Advocate ready for the job

(WTNH) -- The state's Department of Housing made its first key hire as it begins forming a state assistance program for homeowners with a crumbling foundation.

Commissioner Evonne Klein says former Department of Aging staffer Pamela Toohey is the person chosen to help guide the homeowners through the process of testing, applying and eventually getting their deteriorating concrete basement walls replaced.

The state set aside $100 million in the bi-partisan budget passed in October to set up the program.

"I think her important qualities, other than her organizational skills is in her ability to build relationships, do necessary outreach and understanding funding programs," said Klein.

Related Content: State opens applications for reimbursement of crumbling foundation testing

Klein acknowledges the new homeowner advocate has limited knowledge of the issue at this point, but is hitting the ground running with calls to legislators and homeowners.

"I think it's important to have someone with fresh eyes, a fresh perspective, which is always welcome in any situation," said Klein.

Tim Heim, the founder of the Connecticut Coalition Against Crumbling Basements says he understands that Toohey may have a lot of catching up to do on the issue, but he is looking forward to working with her.

"I'm hoping she understands the complexity and the urgency of the crisis we deal with every day," said Heim from his Willington basement. "She's got a lot to prove."

Related Content: Capitol Report "After Hours": George Colli talks crumbling foundations

Klein says Toohey and the rest of her department is ready to take on the challenge.

"Help is on the way. We're here in the Department of Housing. Pam Toohey is here as the homeowner advocate to help homeowners and make sure that their home is repaired as quickly as possible," said Klein.

For Heim, and many others, getting their walls replaced quickly as possible is a good start.

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