ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

This will be the last regular update you will receive from the Connecticut Fair Housing Center on the effect of the pandemic on housing issues. Thank you to all who have been faithful readers, to those who have provided feedback and corrections, and to the people who implemented our recommendations for changes and improvements to the housing programs that affect the lives of so many Connecticut residents. While this regular update will end, the Center’s work on housing inequity will not. We need your help. Please consider a gift to the Center to ensure that our work continues.

These updates began as an effort to keep our community informed about the effects of the pandemic on people of color and people who are low-income. Week after week, month after month, statistic after statistic revealed that these communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Our goal in pointing out problems and making suggestions for changes is to erase, to the greatest extent possible, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic.

Yet, more than 21 months after the start of pandemic, the eviction and foreclosure numbers in Connecticut continue to rise and the impact on people and neighborhoods of color is still disproportionate to the impact on people who are white. In addition, new research reveals that people of color and communities of color continue to be affected by high rates of housing discrimination. New reports show that landlords are less likely to rent to people with racially and ethnically identifiable names. Real estate agents used the concept of freedom as an excuse to discriminate in the sale of homes. And we know that housing segregation is the origin of so many other inequities including access to good schools, jobs, health care, safe neighborhoods, and fair policing.

The Center’s staff and Board of Directors look forward in hope that our work in 2021 will result fewer inequities in 2022.

Eviction and foreclosure by the numbers

2021 eviction filings exceed number filed in 2020—From January 1 to  December 31, 2020, landlords filed a total of 6,430 summary process eviction cases. Through December 8, 2021, landlords have filed 8,522. In addition, Connecticut courts have already issued more executions in 2021 (3,179) than in all of 2020 (2,193). Once an execution is issued, a marshal can serve the tenant with a notice that they must move out within 24 hours.

Finally, the Center believes that many landlords are receiving payment for rent arrearages by UniteCT and then moving to evict their tenants for “lapse of time.” A lapse of time eviction means the tenant is being evicted because the rental agreement ended, not because the tenant owes rent or violated the lease. Lapse of time summary process filings between August and November 2021 rose by 106% compared to the same time period in 2019.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue: According to the last set of data put out by the Household Pulse Survey, 57% of Latinx tenants and 41% of Black tenants have little or no confidence in their ability to pay November’s rent compared to 15% of white tenants. More than 50,591 tenants report being behind on the rent. The Household Pulse Survey has now ended.

For homeowners, 61,685 are not caught up on their mortgage payments.  8.6% of Black homeowners are behind on their mortgages as are 11.7% of those who are mixed race, and 4.2% who are Latinx compared to 5.4% of white homeowners.

Evictions

Executive Order 12D, which will expire on February 15, 2022, requires landlords to give tenants a 30-day notice before filing an eviction case in court. In addition, the Executive Order includes the following provisions:

  • Landlords must complete an application for the State’s UniteCT rental assistance program prior to delivering a notice to quit for nonpayment of rent. The UniteCT case number must be included on the Notice to Quit;
  • Landlords must give tenants a 30-day Notice to Quit if they intend to evict for nonpayment of rent, for lapse of time, or because the right to occupy a unit has terminated;
  • All Notices to Quit given for any reason must be delivered with a flyer about the State’s UniteCT program in both English and Spanish;
  • Tenants have an opportunity to continue all terms of their rental agreement by paying outstanding rent within the 30-day Notice to Quit period;
  • If during any summary process (eviction) case, a UniteCT application is made, all proceedings in the summary process case must be stopped for 30 days or until a decision is made on the UniteCT application, whichever is earlier. If the UniteCT application is approved, the summary process case must be stopped until the UniteCT payment is made, and the summary process action is withdrawn or dismissed. 

Visit www.CTFairHousing.org/eviction for more information on what steps tenants can take to respond to eviction papers and access EO 12D’s protections.

Foreclosures

Ability to request a forbearance extended indefinitely for some homeowners—Homeowners with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backed mortgage can request a forbearance at any time. Homeowners with FHA and VA mortgages may request a forbearance at least until the end of the COVID-19 national emergency. The ability to request a COVID forbearance of a USDA mortgage ended on September 30, 2021, but other options may be available.

A recent report shows that as many as 400,000 homeowners around the country will reach the end of their forbearance eligibility which will allow lenders and loan servicers to request that homeowners begin to pay their mortgage once again. Currently an estimated 1.71 million borrowers are in forbearance with unpaid balances of approximately $331 billion.

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