BOSTON (WWLP) – Dozens of residents and lawmakers from Palmer, Wales, East Longmeadow, Monson, and more spoke before the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Monday.
They are fighting for help from the state government so they can fix their homes now deemed worthless because of crumbling concrete foundations.
“Living in a house that’s worthless is just a punch in the gut when you’ve been paying your mortgage and you’re looking forward to this investment as your retirement,” said Karen Bilotti of Monson.
Crumbling concrete is caused by pyrrhotite. It’s a naturally occurring mineral in the concrete that causes it to slowly deteriorate as it’s exposed to oxygen and water. The only way to fix it is through a process that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and is not covered by insurance.
Homeowners at the hearing gave estimates of $225,000 to $250,000 for foundation replacements.
Lawmakers are considering two bills pertaining to crumbling concrete. One would create a fund to help homeowners pay to repair their foundation.
“We are 64 years old and looking forward to retirement,” said Sharon Gagnon of East Longmeadow. “All the work this project entails is more than we can fathom and the cost would completely change our retirement. As it is, there will be no downsizing in the near future and no summer beach house in Florida as we dreamed of.”
The other bill would require that quarries in Massachusetts are tested for pyrrhotite so this doesn’t continue to be an issue in the future. State Sen. Anne Gobi has been fighting for these bills to pass.
“We are hearing more homes in northern and central Massachusetts that are having the issue,” explained Gobi. “There’s no question that we are only going to see that number grow.”
Crumbling foundations have affected thousands of homes south of the state line, too. In Connecticut, lawmakers passed a bill that created a fund to help homeowners pay for a new foundation. The state covers up to $190,000 for a foundation replacement. A portion of that is paid for by a $12 surcharge on everyone’s homeowner’s insurance.
For homeowners in Massachusetts who want to share their story with the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, you can email your statement to JointCommittee.Environment@malegislature.gov.