Forty pieces of crumbling foundations-related legislation filed this legislative session with nine of them being the focus of a public hearing on Friday.
The bills cover everything from changing insurance policy language over the definition of “collapse”, setting up quarry standards, making home sellers disclose the issue and including all condominium units in the state program set up to pay out claims to replace basement walls.
Condo owner Debbie McCoy of Vernon pleaded with lawmakers to include more funding for condominiums through the captive insurance company paying out claims.
She says a proposal would finance each unit owner about 50% of the cost of replacement, but more is needed. She spoke of the impact this situation is having on those in her condo complex, specifically on an elderly neighbor.
“Is an 82 year old woman going to get a loan for 45 thousand dollars? How’s she going to get that money?”, said McCoy following her testimony.
Representative Kurt Vail (R-Stafford, Somers) says the program is a work in progress and many of the bills are tweaking legislation already passed.
“The next step for this year is we need to fix some of the oversights we may have had in the past,” said Vail. “We’ve got the captive up and running and that’s a big part of the fix.”
500 homeowners in the northeast corner of the state have filed for claims with the captive insurance company, according to Michael Maglaras, the superintendent of the Connecticut Foundations Solutions Indemnity Company.
Maglaras reiterated that more money is needed to take care of the likely thousands of homes and condos with pyrrhotite-related cracking.
Pyrrhotite is an iron sulfide mineral found in the concrete and blamed for causing the concrete to crack.
The state has set aside $20 million dollars per year for five years to go towards replacing the basement walls. Another roughly 8 million dollars per year for ten years coming from a dollar per month surcharge on homeowners policies.
Along with the dozens of bills filed this year in Hartford, there are also several pieces of legislation being considered in Congress.
“I think it’s a testament that we’ve only seen a handful of people here today, who are usually the staunchest advocates for this issue, rather than the 100 or 150 or so in the past because I think they’re confident in the work we’ve done thus far,” said Rep. Jeff Currey (D-East Hartford).
It’s a far cry from being solved but with the progress made, homeowners say the tone in the room this year is much different than in the past.
“After your first story, no one would listen to us,” homeowner coalition president Tim Heim told News 8’s George Colli. “If you had the problem you were on your own and you were stuck. We made a lot of progress but there is still progress to be made.”
Maglaras told Colli outside the hearing room that some news related to condo owners could come as early as next week.