The subject headings of the testimony that a Florida homeowner gave before a Senate subcommittee exploring problem drywall outline the miseries her family has faced since building their home in 2004: “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Failed Us, The Center for Disease Control Failed Us, The U.S. Internal Revenue Service Failed Us,” she stated. “The federal agencies working on this problem for over four years have failed us,” said Brenda Brincku of Alva, Florida.
Testifying before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance on Tuesday, Brincku told the panel that her family had to move into a rental home after their air conditioning units and appliances began to fail and their insurance company advised them to turn off the power when they were not at home to avoid the threat of fire. “My husband George and I are just one of tens of thousands of homeowners who, through no fault of our own, have been devastated by having defective drywall in our home,” she testified. Only her story has a twist--the drywall in her home was American made.
Still, ProPublica reports that the government is no closer to helping owners of homes with tainted Chinese (or American) drywall. As the CPSC-led investigation has worn on, many homeowners have abandoned their homes or been foreclosed on because they can’t afford the repairs or get a government assist to do so. Neal Cohen, the CPSC’s small business ombudsman, defended the agency’s efforts, but acknowledged that progress has been stunted by a lack of cooperation from Chinese government-owned companies, ProPublica reports.
“To date there has been no response from the Chinese manufacturers,” Cohen said at yesterday’s hearing, which ProPublica covered. “They are basically telling us, ‘return to sender’ and that they don’t believe there is a problem with their drywall.”
The CPSC is urging homeowners to seek relief in the courts. The agency maintains a Drywall Information Center for affected homeowners but as we’ve reported in the past, the advice has sometimes been conflicting.
—Mary H.J. Farrell