Hearing on Multiple Bills to Tackle Connecticut's Crumbling Foundation Crisis

NBC CT Investigates broke the story about crumbling foundations more than three years ago

You could have called Friday “crumbling foundations day” at the State Capitol.

A pair of committees are hearing testimony on nine separate bills trying to tackle the problem.

Thanks to past efforts by the state government, there is now $200 million now earmarked to help the hundreds of people with crumbling basements.

That amount is probably not enough, so a number of people impacted by the problem and legislators gathered to talk about how to get more money to help out, and further steps to prevent this from ever happening again.

Tim Heim gave impassioned testimony about the nightmare people are facing: having their basements crumbling beneath their homes with no way to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to fix them.

Heim says the crisis has "...destroyed many families..good families, hardworking middle-class families here in Connecticut."

The problem, unique to north central and eastern Connecticut, is believed to have been caused by aggregate from one quarry in the region. But it has prompted calls to have more standards and testing for quarries statewide for the presence of pyrrhotite, the mineral believed to cause the cracking.

"All it took was one quarry to cause a billion dollar crisis," said Debbie MacCoy, who, like Heim, also has a crumbling basement.

The Connecticut Construction Industries Association says that most quarries have full time quality control staff and that "the purpose of additional oversight of other quarries with no reported problems is highly questionable."

A number of bills also take aim at insurance companies, which, for the most part, have said their policies do not cover crumbling basements.

One bill would require coverage for the problem, something The Insurance Association of Connecticut says would cause premiums to jump and "affect the availability and affordability of insurance for every homeowner in Connecticut."

Another move not in a bill, but getting a lot of attention at the hearing, was a move to initiate what is known as a CUIPA, or Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act investigation, into how the insurance industry has not covered most of the crumbling basement claims.

State Rep. Thomas Delnicki of South Windsor, one of the towns most affected by crumbling basements said, "We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to find out if there’s a smoking gun."

An investigation of this type would have to be initiated by the state insurance commissioner, according to legislators at the hearing.

The Insurance Association of Connecticut had no comment on the possibility of a CUIPA investigation.

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