Public Safety and Security Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT ALLOWING MUNICIPALITIES TO ESTABLISH A GRANT PROGRAM TO REPLACE OR REPAIR CONCRETE FOUNDATIONS.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Public Safety and Security Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
This bill seeks to find a solution to homeowners with crumbling basement foundations that would replace or repair them through town grants.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-3) provided testimony that gave support and federal input on the crumbling foundation crisis from his office in Washington which received confirmation from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) could be used as sources of federal funding for remediation, as was used by province of Quebec with their crumbling foundations crisis over the last ten years. This is not a loan program to homeowners but a loan guarantee to states to secure loans. He also lists other programs that can utilized for various aspects of this issue.
State Senator Tim Larson (D-3) supports the bill he proposed to give municipalities an option and ability to use bond funds to grant aid to residents who are affected by this situation. Under this legislation, it would be voluntary for municipalities to choose to use this mechanism, and in so choosing, would decide to use their own formula. He also feels homeowners, money highlighted by the Attorney General's office, banks that hold mortgages on these homes, insurance companies and state and federal governments must contribute and find solutions.
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) supports this bill and the General Assembly for addressing this issue that is impacting an estimated 36 towns in Connecticut. CCM supports concepts that would provide aid to impacted homeowners in the form of state grants, provide a guaranteed loan fund and waive state building fees.
Barry and Stella Tuttle support this bill because as Connecticut residents with a serious crumbling foundation problem, we are eager to have the legislature act to put into place studies and programs that would promote financial solutions.
Debra McCoy supports this bill because it would enable municipalities to start grant and bond programs for homeowners.
Brinda Van supports this bill and the efforts of the legislative body to correct and remediate this state epidemic of failing concrete foundations, and requests that condominium unit owners are not forgotten in further deliberations and the final bill.
Justyn and Sheila Cyr support this bill and all bills that are trying to find funds to help homeowners with crumbling foundations.
William and Jane Lenz support this bill and all bills that can bring federal and state help in order to get through this disaster. As condominium owners, their basement is fine but the two units on each side are crumbling so they cannot sell their home. They also ask the state to make the American Society for Testing Materials standard so concrete is tested properly.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST) opposes this bill while well-intended, the scope and size of the problem of crumbling foundations warrants a statewide solution. There is no way that a town can shoulder the burden of what is recognized as a disaster with statewide ramifications.
First Selectman of Somers, Lisa Pellegrini, and Co-Chair of Capital Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) opposes this bill because it cannot be treated as an individual municipal issue. With a fifth of the state affected, it is too overwhelming for municipalities to deal with on their own. Expecting municipalities to bond for this issue is outrageous as it is not a public road or shared building. Bonding would require some towns to change charters, require the use of prevailing wage increasing the cost to residents, require referendums meaning some towns would be able to do bonds for these, and because bonding has project time limits.
Town Manager of Tolland, Steve Werbner, and Co-Chair of CRCOG, opposes this bill since we cannot support the concept of having local municipalities bond or create funds to address this potentially billion dollar problem locally. This problem is akin to a major natural disaster that needs to be addressed by local, state and federal government, private insurance companies, and home owners.
The Connecticut Coalition Against Crumbling Basements Legislative Subcommittee opposes this bill because it advocates each town administers its own grant program that appears inefficient and unworkable.
Jeffrey and Laura Cormier oppose this bill because which would have individual municipalities bond and create grant programs, because any financial aid program should be standardized and consistent for all people affected by this issue. Any financial aid, grant, or reimbursement program that is established should treat everyone equitably.
Gretchen Shea opposes this bill as is and make over thirty towns compete with each other for grants.
Reported by: Juliana Simone