Connecticut’s congressional delegation is urging the U.S. House of Representatives to more than double funding to develop federal standards to test the soundness of concrete foundations as the appropriations bill heads to conference committee.
Late last week, the Senate voted to allocate at least $1.5 million to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop a reliable, cost-effective standard to test the soundness of concrete foundations as part of one of the Senate’s 2020 appropriations bills. The Connecticut delegation is asking that the appropriation be revised to the original $4 million it sought in the original appropriations package approved by the House in June.
In statements released Friday, Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal applauded the Senate vote, but said more funding is needed to better address the catastrophic issue of crumbling foundations for thousands of homeowners in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
“I’ve visited the homes in Connecticut dealing with crumbling foundations,” Murphy said. “Thousands of these homeowners have had their lives turned upside down because their homes started falling apart. Although we’ve been able to get Congress to take some action, it’s not nearly enough. Senator Blumenthal and I, along with our partners in the House, will continue to work on legislation to provide federal assistance and some relief for these homeowners. Today’s vote was a step in the right direction.”
Blumenthal, who called the issue of crumbling foundations “devastating,” said the Senate’s vote was “a good step for people who deserve a lot more.”
The same day, U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney and John Larson released a letter to the House Appropriations Committee in which they urge support for a final spending package that retains the original $4 million the House allocated to NIST to conduct crumbling foundation research when it passed its version of the appropriations bill five months ago.
The letter, signed by all five members of Connecticut’s House delegation, as well as Congressman Richard Neal of Massachusetts, specifically asks the committee leadership to support the $4 million allocation in an effort to assist homeowners, businesses and local governments affected by the crumbling foundation crisis, noting that the issue is not unique to New England states and is known to have impacted parts of Quebec and Ireland.
Crumbling foundations, which are believed to be caused by the presence of pyrrhotite — a mineral that, after reacting with sunlight and water, causes concrete to crumble — have been a known issue in Connecticut since at least 2015, following an investigation by NBC Connecticut. According to the state Department of Housing, an estimated 35,000 homeowners in dozens of Connecticut towns are potentially affected by the issue, as well as numerous businesses and local governments.
Over the past four years, local, state and federal officials have worked to assist homeowners with issue, including offering tax relief and creating a non-profit state insurance company to help homeowners afford necessary repairs.
Moving forward, members of the House are set to work out the differences between the Senate’s version of the bill and the version the House originally passed in June as the appropriations bill heads to conference. The multibillion-dollar appropriations bill will fund the U.S. Commerce, Justice, Science and related departments for 2020.