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Habitat for Humanity Forms Chinese Drywall Task Force

Jul 2, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

It seems Habitat for Humanity is finally taking steps to address the Chinese drywall issue. According to the Sarasota-Herald Tribune, the non-profit group has established an internal task force to research use of the defective wallboard in homes it built in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

The Sarasota-Herald Tribune, in cooperation with ProPublica, recently reported that Habitat built more than 200 homes with Chinese drywall in the hurricane-ravaged city and then ignored homeowners’ complaints about it. Most of the Habitat houses raising concerns are located in the Musicians Village, a development built to help bring musicians back to the city after the hurricane.

Three homeowners in the Village told reporters from ProPublica and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune of a range of problems, from failed appliances and electronics to corroded metals and jewelry. They also complained of respiratory problems, irritated eyes and other symptoms. At least one homeowner said she had been complaining to Habitat for more than a year about her issues.

For more than a year, Habitat told the Herald-Tribune that it had never received a complaint about the drywall it used.

Following the report, Habitat’s Atlanta headquarter released a brief statement that said the task force was being formed “for the purposes of researching the situation, tracking the latest guidance and data published by local, state and federal government agencies investigating the matter, and sharing that information with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.”

No one from Habitat was willing to answer questions about the task force, the Herald-Tribune said.

Since late 2008, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received more than 3,000 reports from residents in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico regarding defective Chinese drywall. Gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances.

The CPSC says the only way to fix Chinese drywall homes is to remove both the wallboard and the electrical wiring and other components.

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