About 200 families will receive $13 million in payouts from a Chinese drywall settlement, according to a hearing Wednesday in Norfolk Circuit Court.
Newport News resident Eric Bailey, who was present for the hearing and a victim of the toxic Chinese drywall, said that the money, while helpful, won't be enough to truly help families.
Families have complained that the drywall has emitted toxic gases that have caused health problems, corroded wiring and destroyed appliances. The homes smell like rotten eggs and are in an unlivable condition, residents say, and many have been forced to move out. The settlement includes payouts from Venture Supply Co., a Norfolk company that imported Chinese drywall in the mid-2000s, Bailey said.
Chinese drywall was used during the mid-2000s housing boom when American-made drywall was more scarce.
The payouts would be roughly $39,000 per family if each received an equitable share, Bailey said, after attorney and court fees are paid.
"It's not enough for people to fix their homes, and it's not enough for people who had to throw out all their furniture and belongings," Bailey said.
Bailey said he believes if all goes well, the payments would be received by families in 2013.
Drywall activists have been lobbying the government for help ever since the problem started surfacing in the late 2000s, but so far there's been no monetary assistance. Insurance companies have been refusing to cover Chinese drywall claims, according to the families.
Many have declared bankruptcy or had their houses foreclosed upon, Bailey said.
Colleen Stephens, a Virginia Beach homeowner who also was a victim of Chinese drywall, said that the payments won't help much.
"It's not fair. The homeowners lose. Big business and insurance companies win," Stephens said. "After three-and-a-half years, $13 million isn't very encouraging."
Bailey, who lost his Hollymeade home in a short sale last year, said to be determined is how the $13 million would be split up. He said it's unknown whether it would be based on a formula depending on how much the home was damaged, or an equal share for each family.
U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, issued a statement of support for families.
"I am happy to see the legal process working toward a conclusion for our friends and neighbors, but I remain concerned that for families who have lost so much to this toxic product, the final settlement may not be enough to cover their losses," Rigell said in a statement.