Three-quarters of the federal cash that was recently allocated to help families in Eastern Connecticut with crumbling foundations has been diverted by state officials for other needs.
Connecticut’s Second District Rep. Joe Courtney sent a letter Wednesday to the state’s Department of Housing to ask why.
As part of a Community Development Block Grant that came from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, Governor Dannel Malloy allocated $1 million for municipalities affected by crumbling foundations. Courtney said those towns were able to apply for money so that homeowners could test their foundations.
“It’s very expensive,” Courtney said. “It’s about $4,000 or $5,000. The block grant was intended to provide 100 percent reimbursement for testing.”
Courtney said some towns led by Coventry applied together and were granted $250,000. But he said that the remaining $750,000 wouldn’t be handed out as originally intended. Instead, the money was redirected.
“It was spent within the ground rules of the block grant,” Courtney said. “However, I think for a lot of us who were pushing hard to get CDBG to be part of the solution, it was not very transparent or clear how this all was handled.”
The Connecticut Department of Housing provided a statement to Connecticut Public Radio on Wednesday regarding Courtney’s letter. Commissioner Evonne Klein said there were a surprisingly low number of applicants for the testing funds. The Department then redirected the unused funds so that they wouldn't be swept by the federal government.
“When the Captive Insurance Company is up and running, that funding will complement the foundation testing funds that were made available by the Department of Housing through the CDBG – Small Cities program,” Klein said in the statement. “Specifically, when DOH announced that it would set aside $1 million under the CDBG Small Cities program, it did so with the understanding that municipalities would want to apply to meet the needs of their residents impacted by this issue.”
Courtney said he sent the letter recognizing that the money is gone. But because HUD received a funding boost in the last federal spending bill, he hopes he can sway the state into allocating other HUD money for his concerned constituents.