PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With record-setting rains saturating unstable hillsides, landslides have become an everyday reality in our region — blocking and buckling roadways and taking the homes out from under dozens of families.
It’s been two years since the city posted this condemnation sign on Chloe Alcarez’s house in Squirrel Hill and ordered her family to leave.
Even though their house keeps slipping down the hillside and Chloe Alcarez can’t live it in anymore, she and her husband still have to pay the mortgage, and they say personal bankruptcy is looming.
“It’s terrible because we’ve run through all of our credit, all of our credit cards, any day now I’m going to have default on something,” she said.
For the Alcarez family and others, there’s been no help at all. The city, county and state say they’re too strapped to even fix their own damaged roads and insurance companies have told the victims they’re not covered for landslide damage.
Private companies do not offer landslide insurance. That’s why State Rep. Anita Kulik is sponsoring a bill to make state-funded landslide insurance available to homeowners.
The bill would create an insurance fund akin to government-subsidized flood insurance. Landslide-prone areas would be designated and homeowners within those zones could purchase the coverage.
“We have to do something. We have to do something to help these people. It’s tragic,” Kulik said.
The fund would also provide grants and low-interest loans to municipalities struggling to fix their roads and sinkholes — and Kulik is hopeful of getting a floor vote on her bill in the fall.
But even if it passes, the home coverage would come too late for folks like Alcarez who never got the chance to buy it.