With warmer weather, construction is underway in southern New England, lifting buildings into the air to replace defective concrete basements below them.
NBC Connecticut Investigates first reported this problem impacting potentially thousands of homeowners, business owners, and municipal governments in Connecticut and Massachusetts nearly six years ago.
Now, more progress has been made.
In the past month, crews began work on the Willington Ridge condominuim project. Buildings with a half dozen condos in each of them will get hoisted in the air, individually, for weeks at a time.
It is a six-building, roughly $3 million project.
Condo association president Heidi Zelonka explained homeowners began noticing tell-tale roadmap-like cracking more than a decade ago, and it kept deteriorating, leading to a lot of sleepless nights.
“This building was the worst. You could put your hand through you know the cracks," Zelonka said.
The association had no idea how to pay for this until a recent act of the legislature permitted a state fund for people with crumbling basements to include condominiums.
“I'm just overjoyed that it's actually lifted. That we have reached this point.”
Since its inception, Michael Maglaras has been executive director of the fund that bankrolled much of this, called the Connecticut Foundation Solutions Indemnity Company, or CFSIC.
“We've put 291 families back in their homes. But with this particular remediation, six more families in one building, will be back in a safe and a secure foundation we think, in approximately 14 to 16 weeks," Maglaras said.
Maglaras added there may be thousands more basements in north-central and northeastern Connecticut, as well as parts of Massachusetts, where owners will need to replace defective concrete used between 1983 and 2016.
Even with the success of Willington Ridge, a project that wouldn’t have happened without government help, the quest for even more funding has been going on, with both state and federal leaders, seeing what they can do.
State legislators are working this session to keep the crumbling basement fund alive beyond its original sunset date of 2022.
Federally, Congressman Joe Courtney said it’s possible a phased-out casualty loss tax deduction for crumbling basement homeowners could be restored in President Biden’s infrastructure bill…along with millions in federal housing funds that could be given to CFSIC.
“I feel pretty good about the fact that the infrastructure bill will have provisions in it,” Courtney said.
Courtney’s efforts could be augmented in millions more dollars, if a bill just proposed by U.S. senators from Connecticut and Massachusetts gets through Congress, or is added to the infrastructure bill.