Ben Carson, the secretary of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development was in Connecticut Monday to visit the home of a family dealing with a crumbling foundation in Willington.
The Perracchio family hoped that by having Carson at the home in a publicized event, they could bring national attention to the issue.
“I don’t expect him to come with a $2 billion check and say ‘Here. Fix everything,’” Maggie Perrachio said. “I think this is the beginning of some work on the federal level so that they truly can understand what’s happening. I’m very appreciative of the fact that he’s coming and hope that we well-represent the people of Eastern Connecticut.”
The Perracchio’s bought this home in 1991 a couple years after it was built. The crumbling foundation of their home became apparent about two and a half years ago. Their house is just one of what could eventually be tens of thousands of houses in Connecticut to be affected by a corrosive mineral in the concrete used to build their foundation. Perracchio says they can no longer take pride in a home they’ve owned for 27 years.
“We’ve loved this house,” Perracchio said. “My husband is an avid gardener—I don’t think he’s touched the garden in two years because it’s kind of like lipstick on a pig. It’s superficial and we’re not fixing what the problems are.”
There are moves afoot to help. The state bonded $20 million per year for the families over five years in last year’s budget. This year, Connecticut’s General Assembly approved a $12 surcharge to insurance policies paid for by homeowners in the state. But Perracchio said she hasn’t yet seen a dime of the $100 million and she said the surcharge was nice, but it puts the onus on state residents to pay up rather than any state and federal agencies or insurance companies.
As for Carson, he said that the state, the federal government, and the private sector must come together to resolve this issue.
“If we can get into a room and we can talk, and we can talk about responsibilities, and who’s responsibility is that, and who’s responsibility is this–working together, we can usually come up with a solution,” Carson said.
Senator Richard Blumenthal said these families must receive tens of millions of dollars—if not more—to have their homes fixed. The Perracchios estimate it’ll take $220,000 to rectify the problem. And now that Carson’s seen the problem first-hand, Blumenthal said he should now be held accountable.
“The old saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ has real force here,” Blumenthal said. “He’s seen it and now he owns it to some extent. And I hope he will move forward in action--not just words.”
Blumenthal and Senator Chris Murphy have each proposed $100 million bills in the United States senate to help families with crumbling foundations.