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Relief proposed for defective drywall homeowners

By Staff | Oct 10, 2009

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide rental assistance for homeowners who have left, or need to leave, their homes due to defective imported drywall.
Nelson joined forces with U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu, D-LA, Mark Warner, D-VA, and Jim Webb, D-VA in drafting a letter to Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator.
The letter asks FEMA to provide rental assistance to home and business owners who have sustained uninsured loss due to “Chinese” drywall, following a written request from a state governor who has declared a disaster or emergency.
It is estimated that 60,000 to 100,000 homes were built using bad imported drywall, mostly in Florida, Louisiana, and Virginia.
Most, if not all, of those homeowners are facing huge financial losses, either having to abandon their homes or live with the toxic effects.
“We’re trying to get the federal government involved at various levels to help folks who through no fault of their own are staring at financial disaster,” said Nelson in a prepared comment.
Nelson toured the Coral Lakes home of Sonny and Joyce Dowdy last April to get a first hand look at the effects of defective drywall.
The Dowdys continue to live in their home while part of a class action lawsuit against Engle Homes, a national home construction company that built their house.
The Dowdys have been Cape residents for 25 years, having lived in their Coral Lakes house for a year and half.
The problems started for the Dowdys almost as soon as they moved in.
“If they offer assistance to get out of this toxic house, we’re going to take it,” said Joyce Dowdy.
It has not been scientifically proven that the drywall is toxic, but Dowdy said all the proof already exists.
They have gone through three air conditioning units and have to deal with constant health concerns.
Aside from the Dowdys financial burden, they are also worried about the potential long-term effects on their health.
Right now they’re experiencing irritated eyes and skin.
“We don’t know, that’s the scary part,” Dowdy said. “Studies are being done but meanwhile we’re still living here and we don’t know what kind of long term effects were having. If we have an out, we’ll take it.”