Sen. Cruz Holds Norfolk Southern to Its Promise to East Palestine Homeowners

September 18, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today issued the following statement on the announcement that Norfolk Southern made good on the formal promise it gave Sen. Cruz just four months earlier to establish a compensation fund for sales by East Palestine homeowners whose property values declined due to the derailment.


“Norfolk Southern committed to me and the people of Ohio and Pennsylvania that they would compensate homeowners who sold their property at less than fair market value because of the derailment. We have been working hold the railroad to that commitment. My office has been watching closely and has held frequent calls with Norfolk Southern and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to make sure that this fund would be made available to the people of East Palestine—as promised. As of today, Norfolk Southern’s interim fund is now set up for home sellers whose property values declined due to no fault of their own. This fund is one of the most consequential actions taken to date for helping Ohioans and Pennsylvanians affected by the accident. I intend to keep the pressure on Norfolk Southern to make things right for the community.”




In May, Norfolk Southern publicly wrote in a letter “at the encouragement of Sen. Cruz” that it was committed to establishing a fund that would make whole residents in the East Palestine area who sold a home for less than its fair market value. Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw agreed to establish the fund now rather than waiting for the completion of ongoing litigation. Shaw wrote:


“As President and CEO of Norfolk Southern Corporation (Norfolk Southern), I write at the encouragement of Senator Cruz to reaffirm Norfolk Southern’s commitment to make it right for the people of East Palestine, including by establishing a fund to compensate homeowners in the area for property value diminution[…]


“Norfolk Southern has not waited for the judicial process to be completed prior to getting to work on the structure and shape of a real property fund that will compensate homeowners. . . .? Initially, we expect eligible homeowners for this compensation to include those with homes within an approximately 5-mile radius of the derailment, and who sell their homes for less than their property’s pre-February 3 appraised value[…]


“Moreover, prior to establishing the real property fund pursuant to the ongoing litigation, Norfolk Southern commits to compensate homeowners who sell their homes for less than their property’s pre-February 3 appraised value[…]

Click?HERE?to read the full letter from Norfolk Southern in May.


Today, Norfolk Southern announced the establishment of the homeowner fund, which meets the promises made in the May letter. Key facts include:


Geographic Scope. ?The homeowner fund covers a radius of approximately five miles around the derailment.  The total coverage is 91 square miles, including portions of Columbiana and Mahoning Counties in Ohio and Beaver and Lawrence Counties in Pennsylvania.


Eligible Homeowners.  The homeowner fund will be open to any resident owner who sold since February 3, 2023; those who have listed already but not yet sold; and those who have been waiting to put their homes up for sale, then choose to list after today’s announcement. 


Interim Fund. ?This will be an “interim” homeowner fund that persists pending resolution of the extensive litigation resulting from the derailment, which is expected to result in a long-term version of the homeowner fund.  The homeowner fund accelerates compensation for homeowners who decide to move with the benefit of this protection. 


Fair Market Value.? Norfolk Southern will pay the difference between the sale price of the home and the fair market value. As a result, the homeowner fund will correct for any lost appreciation in the property value, not just lost value compared to the fair price in February. 


Application Process. ?Homeowners can apply online or through the family assistance center.?