In her first two weeks on the job, Connecticut’s new Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno says she’s been inundated with information about the crumbling foundations crisis, first uncovered by NBC Connecticut Investigates in July of 2015.
Thursday, for the first time, Mosquera-Bruno saw the problem in person, touring two homes with failing foundations in northeast Connecticut.
“It’s just devastating. I wasn’t expecting this,” she said.
Willington homeowner Tim Heim invited the commissioner into his basement to see what he and as many as 35,000 homeowners could be dealing with in the state. Heim first noticed cracks in the foundation of his home four years ago. Today, the cracks inside his basement are multiplying.
“We purchased the house for $329,000 and right now it’s worthless,” said Heim.
Astonished by the crumbling concrete and the bowing basement walls, Mosquera-Bruno learned of failed fights with insurance companies, and the financial burden the crisis is placing on communities.
“We’ve lost almost $5 million in assessed values for our town. That’s huge for small towns. That goes to the taxpayers, and it’s hard to overcome that in your budget,” Stafford First Selectman Mary Mitta told the commissioner.
Heim pointed out how the home was starting to lift off of the foundation as the cracks widened.
“You can see the space up top,” he pointed out on the tour.
His spirits were lifted seeing the new commissioner take a hands-on approach to what he calls the biggest crisis in Connecticut.
“She’s two weeks into the job, she’s in the basement looking at a crumbling foundation first hand and that’s a great start,” said Heim.
Heim urged Mosquera-Bruno to call Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, who came to his home last summer, and Hein says promised help for homeowners.
The commissioner said she plans to put pressure on Washington.
“Every time there is a natural disaster there are resources and that’s what we are gonna plea,” she said.
The state has already requested funding from FEMA twice and been denied. FEMA says it considers this a man-made event.