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State officials fear potential housing market collapse due to crumbling foundations

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HARTFORD -- Alarm bells sounded at a State Capitol hearing Thursday on the crumbling foundations epidemic plaguing homes in Eastern Connecticut.

"It's the largest disaster that we've seen in my 40 years of being in this business taking into consideration all the natural disasters we've had," described Steve Werbner, Town Manager of Tolland. "The economic potential impact to Eastern Connecticut as well as the devastation to homeowners is just beyond anything that anybody had been able to see previously."

Homeowners have been asking lawmakers on the state and federal level for help ever since the problems began appearing the 1990s.

"The big solution I think is going to be a co-operative venture between the insurance, state, and feds," said Stephen Cassano, State Senator from Manchester. "That's the sensible solution."

The State Bond Commission approved $5 million Wednesday to help homeowners test their foundations for compromised concrete that could lead to cracking.

More than 1,000 homes are estimated as being built on foundations with concrete containing the mineral pyrrhotite which, when exposed to oxygen and water, can contribute to concrete cracking.

Under the program, homeowners will be eligible for a 50 percent reimbursement – up to $2,000 – for the testing of two core samples within their home. Homeowners who have visual testing conducted by a licensed professional engineer will be eligible for a 100 percent reimbursement – up to $400.  The program will provide testing for applicants with homes built since 1983 and that are within a 20-mile radius of the J.J. Mottes Concrete Company in Stafford Springs.

"I think this is our beginning point for testing," said Governor Dannel Malloy. "Testing is vitally important on a number of different basis and we move forward."

Lawmakers hope that as more people come forward, state leaders can get federal officials involved.

The funds will be made available through a Department of Housing application process later this year.

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