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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Crumbling Foundations

In recent years, more and more homeowners in north-central and eastern Connecticut have discovered that their home foundations are crumbling due to a mineral called pyrrhotite in the stone aggregate used to pour their foundations. In the course of the last two years, I have visited many affected homeowners, attended community meetings, and met with town officials and state legislators from the affected areas. The high cost of repairs for homeowners, the prevalence of the problem in our region, and potential economic impact to the state require a comprehensive response, and I have consistently called for such a collaborative, all-hands-on-deck approach to this crisis that includes local and state officials, federal agencies, and private industry stakeholders.

Courtney speaks to a homeowners group about crumbling foundations in 2015

What I am Doing

On November 22, Congressman John Larson and I announced that the IRS had approved our request for a "revenue procedure," a guidance document that allows homeowners with crumbling foundations to deduct the cost of repairs from their federal taxes as a casualty loss. In the months leading up to this decision, we discussed this problem with key federal officials, including former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, who made it clear that federal agencies understand the deep impact of this problem. This guidance allows homeowners to deduct the cost of repairs made to pyrrhotite-related damage on returns and amended returns filed moving forward. Homeowners can read the guidance here and consult with their tax preparer to determine whether their repairs qualify.

In August 2016, I received confirmation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that federal grant programs including the Community Development Block Grant and the HOME Investment Partnership program could be used to support housing remediation costs in communities affected by this issue. Connecticut already receives funding through this program annually to support housing initiatives across the state, and some of the funding could be targeted to support our region's response. I have worked extensively with state legislators and the state government and HUD staff to share information and assist in using this funding to alleviate the burden of crumbling foundations.

In addition, in September 2017 the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed three amendments I authored with Congressman Larson. These amendments would support these efforts with the IRS and HUD, as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which could issue standards for pyrrhotite content in residential construction to help prevent a similar pyrrhotite-related problem in the future. While the amendments have not become law, this vote was the first time a chamber of the U.S. Congress expressed support for assisting Connecticut homeowners.

The response to this crisis must address the central problem of damaged homes as well related issues, including questions regarding property-casualty policy changes, outstanding mortgage debt held by homeowners, and the impact of this problem on municipal budgets. I remain committed to investigating every possible source of federal assistance that may be available to our local homeowners who need help, and I will continue my constant communications with state and local officials to develop the comprehensive solution this crisis requires. 

As the state coordinates further assistance and information for homeowners, my office is always available as a resource for eastern Connecticut constituents. Please feel free to call my office at 860-886-0139 or email me with any questions

Resources for Homeowners

More on Crumbling Foundations

November 22, 2017 Press Release
Congressmen Courtney Larson announced approval of new federal tax relief for homeowners dealing with crumbling foundations. The relief, released through an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) “revenue procedure,” follows nearly 19 months of work by the two members.
October 27, 2017 Press Release
Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) welcomed the Connecticut General Assembly’s action on crumbling foundations in the state budget, calling it "a positive and constructive development in the response to crumbling foundations."
September 14, 2017 Press Release
Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Congressman John B. Larson (CT-01) announced three amendments they authored in support of support Connecticut residents impacted by crumbling foundations passed in the House of Representatives. The amendments were added to an omnibus appropriations bill to fund the federal government which passed the House today. These amendments represent the first time that a full chamber of Congress has passed measures related to crumbling foundations in Connecticut.
September 12, 2017 In The News

U.S. Reps. Joseph D. Courtney and John B. Larson say they’re optimistic that homeowners with crumbling foundations will be provided tax relief for repairs following a meeting Monday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The congressmen met with Mnuchin and Secretary for Tax Policy David Kautter at the Treasury Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss their request for an IRS “revenue procedure” — a guidance document that could allow homeowners to deduct foundation repair costs from their federal taxes.

September 11, 2017 Press Release
Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Congressman John B. Larson (CT-01) met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy David Kautter at the Department of the Treasury headquarters in Washington, D.C. to discuss assistance for north-central Connecticut residents impacted by crumbling concrete foundation.
May 24, 2017 Press Release
We are encouraged that the National Taxpayer Advocate has committed to working with our offices and the IRS to secure relief for Connecticut homeowners impacted by crumbling foundations through the tax code. We still have a lot of work to do, but having a key federal official publicly acknowledge the merits of casualty loss tax assistance for local homeowners is an encouraging development. Our offices remain committed to investigating every possible source of federal assistance that could be used to homeowners with crumbling foundations.
March 9, 2017 Press Release
“The news of these potential cuts shows that the opportunities HUD identified last August for remediating crumbling foundations may have a limited shelf life,” said Courtney. “While there are issues the state and others have to work through to determine the best means to utilize HUD programs like the Small Cities grants and the Section 108 credit line program, they still represent the one avenue the federal government has agreed are available to help Connecticut communities address the urgent problem of crumbling home foundations. Now is the time for relevant stakeholders to come together in good will to design the best HUD-based solutions for this problem while there is still time.”
January 23, 2017 Press Release
“I am pleased that today Governor Malloy has announced promising new steps that the State of Connecticut is taking to address the increasingly urgent problem of crumbling home foundations in northcentral Connecticut,” said Courtney. “As my office determined last August, federal assistance is available immediately through the Department of Housing and Urban Devolvement Small Cities CDBG and HOME block grant programs, and I’m glad that the Governor indicated today that these funding sources will be used. Nothing could fall more squarely within the mission of CDBG to promote community development than stopping this threat to northcentral Connecticut’s housing market. I encourage the General Assembly to support these efforts and continue to investigate the potential use of additional money that is available through HUD. This is a good first step, but much more work will need to be done in order to get a handle on the urgent issue of crumbling foundation which is threatening local families, our communities and the region’s economy.”
January 3, 2017 Press Release
“This report documents the work done to date by the staff of the Department of Consumer Protection. As such, it accurately lays out the Commissioner’s efforts which have been laudable. Unfortunately, it totally begs the question of what needs to happen next to solve this problem, which will require the concerted effort of all levels of government. Today, local officials in 23 communities we know have impacted homes are taking the brunt of declining property assessments. This horrifying situation poses a grave threat to the housing market of a significant part of the state which will have a negative ripple effect across our state's economic recovery. My office received confirmation last August that federal resources can be applied to this problem through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Local leaders are hard at work trying to leverage these resources, which combined with help from other stakeholders, insurers, lenders and home builders can stop the escalating harm this report identifies. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the federal delegation, area legislators and local officials to flush opportunities like these out further."
October 7, 2016 Press Release
“As I have said before, I am committed to investigating every source of federal assistance that can be used to assist homeowners in northeastern Connecticut with crumbling foundations. Now I am working with partners on the ground in Connecticut to make sure that we can smooth the glide-path for these resources into our local towns,” said Courtney. “This is a complicated issue and no single source of funding is going to solve this entire problem. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach to this crisis and after meeting with the Capital Regions Council of Governments earlier this week - it was clear that they get it. I look forward to continuing to work closely with CRCOG as they pursue ways to address the crumbling foundations issue and seek resources, such as federal funding like the type I identified at HUD to help homeowner sand community facing this difficult challenge.”