Connecticut Should Use Federal Relief Money to Guarantee Tenants Legal Representation

by Salmun Kazerounian and Sarah White

The Center has endorsed a campaign to make Connecticut the first state to guarantee tenants legal representation in evictions. Nationally, eight cities have created a right to counsel for tenants, two other states are on the verge of creating statewide programs, and many more are considering it as we face an eviction crisis of epic proportions. 

H.B. 6531, which would create a right to counsel for tenants in evictions in Connecticut, passed the Housing Committee in March following a public hearing showing broad community support for the bill. Governor Lamont and the legislature now have a historic opportunity to use federal relief money to fund the right to counsel program through the end of 2024.

Jurisdictions that have passed right to counsel have seen extraordinary results. In New York City—the first jurisdiction to pass right to counsel—86% of tenants facing evictions who receive representation stayed in their homes. Cleveland, which just implemented a right to counsel, found that 93% of evictions were prevented in just the first 6 months. San Francisco experienced a 10% reduction in eviction filings in the first year, before the program was even fully implemented, with 67% of represented tenants staying in their homes. 

The Center’s analysis of eviction records in Connecticut from 2019 supports that we will likely see similar reductions in evictions and forced displacement if Connecticut guarantees legal representation to tenants. 

In 2019, fewer than 7% of residential tenants had legal representation in their eviction cases, compared to more than 80% of landlords. Our estimate is that the number of Black and Latinx tenants with legal representation is even smaller–just 5% of Black and Latinx residential tenants had lawyers.

Legal representation dramatically reduced the likelihood that the court would issue an execution–the final order that permits a marshal to remove a tenant. 44% of residential eviction cases in which the tenant did not have counsel resulted in the court’s issuance of an execution. That is compared to only 21% of cases in which tenants had counse

These results suggest that, with counsel, tenants are less than half as likely to be forcibly removed from their homes by a marshal. The likelihood of a residential eviction case being withdrawn also more than doubled when tenants had counsel.

Legal representation also improved the results of mediation. When the tenant was unrepresented in mediation and entered into a stipulated judgment, an execution was still issued 38% of the time. When the tenants had a lawyer and entered into a stipulated judgment, an execution was issued just 2.9% of the time. This suggests that stipulations entered into by tenants with legal representation are much more likely to be successful and to end in reinstatement, meaning the tenant gets to stay in their home and avoids eviction. Everyone benefits when tenants have legal representation.   

Connecticut can fund a right to counsel program for tenants for three and a half years using a tiny fraction of the more than $2.6 billion dollars in federal relief money it will receive under the American Rescue Plan act.  And over time, the state will save money 2 to 12 times greater than its investment, including in shelter costs, emergency services, and the other collateral costs of eviction and homelessness.

You can add your voice to ours in urging Governor Lamont and the legislature to pass H.B. 6531 and fund a right to counsel program for tenants. Find out how here.

PUBLIC AND SUBSIDIZED TENANTS NO LONGER ELIGIBLE FOR UniteCT

As of April 12, 2021, the UniteCT guidelines state: 

Applications will be deemed ineligible if: 

  • Applicant is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance. (emphasis added) 

This represents a significant change from the program guidelines (no longer available on the DOH website) published on March 15, 2021 which stated:  

An eligible household that occupies a federally subsidized residential unit may receive UniteCT ERA assistance, provided that UniteCT ERA funds are not applied to costs that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal assistance. If an eligible household received a monthly federal subsidy and the rent is adjusted according to changes in income, the renter household may receive UniteCT ERA assistance for the tenant-owed portion of rent or utilities that is not subsidized. An analysis of income and sources of assistance will be performed in order to ensure no duplication of benefits exists. (emphasis added). 

This change may have long lasting effects because: 

  • Denying rental assistance to people with housing subsidies or tenants in public housing has a disparate impact on people of color. In Connecticut, 71% of people in subsidized are people of color.  
  • Tenants evicted from subsidized units because of rental arrears will lose their housing and their subsidies. 
  • Many housing authorities and subsidized housing providers will not rent to tenants with an eviction record. As a result, eviction for nonpayment of rent will disqualify many tenants from subsidized housing in the future. 

Resources for tenants and homeowners:  

More COVID-19 resources can be found on our website.  

Sign up to receive this weekly update. 

Addressing Clients’ Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

“Home, for some people, is the last bulwark against the gnawing, snarling, wolf of poverty, the pain of hunger, and now, the risk of death by slow and wrenching suffocation from COVID-19. Some of our hardest working citizens find shelter with family. Some have to live in less-than-adequate rental units. And in the Great State of Georgia, some often seek out a manufactured home. Those who work for wages too often have little to show for it. At a minimum, the worker deserves a roof and some walls to keep out the January wind. 

‘I mined in your mines and I gathered in your corn 

I been working, mister, since the day I was born 

Now I worry all the time like I never did before 

‘Cause I ain’t got no home in this world anymore’ 

. . . This court finds that taking back a family’s trailer home on a contract is the same as evicting a tenant or foreclosing and taking possession of someone’s house. Everybody is just going to have to be patient and wait until the pandemic is over. This too shall pass. We must all accept the ephemerality of the human condition . . . Request for writ possession of the mobile home is denied.” 

***From a January 21, 2021 decision by Judge Dennis Blackmon, Superior Court of Georgia, Carroll County. Quoted lyrics by Woody Guthrie. 

The Center is working to ensure that all of Connecticut’s residents have access to the home of their choice. Please join us.  

Since the pandemic began on March 10, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out: 

  • Landlords have filed 3,295 new summary process (eviction) cases in court. 
  • Courts have issued 889 executions—Once a court issues an execution order, the landlord can hire a state marshal to remove the tenant and their belongings from the unit. 

What’s happened since January 21, 2021: 

Governor’s emergency powers extended to April 20, 2021: On January 26, the Governor extended his emergency powers to April 20, 2021. As outlined in his statement extending his powers, the Governor stated, “I will be required in the coming months to respond to a number of additional public health and civil preparedness risks that were not clear concerns or justifications for the March and September 2020 emergencies. Among many other things, I will need to address and administer a mass vaccination program as well as the potential threat posed by new and more infectious variants of the disease.” The extension of the Governor’s emergency powers has not yet extended the eviction moratorium now scheduled to expire on February 9, 2021. 

Biden administration takes steps to restore civil rights enforcement tools:  On Tuesday, January 26, 2021, President Biden signed a memorandum directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to take steps to promote equitable housing politics. His statement acknowledges that Federal, State, and local governments systematically implemented racially discriminatory housing policies that contributed to segregated neighborhoods and inhibited equal opportunity and the chance to build wealth for Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Native American families, and other underserved communities. HUD will be determining whether the last administration’s repeal of several key civil rights protections in housing are contributing to segregation and unequal access to housing. 

Democrats propose bill to repeal Connecticut’s “poverty tax” House Speaker Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) and House Appropriations Chair Toni Walker (D-New Haven) joined Rev. Isaac Lawson with the Center for Leadership and Justice to discuss legislation repealing the state’s inequitable “Poverty Tax.”If passed, the bill will end welfare liens imposed by the Department of Social Services when a resident receives state assistance. Connecticut has one of the strictest welfare lien laws in the country and is one of only two states to still require the liens. As explained by a former recipient of assistance and a foster mom, she hoped to sell her home and retire to Georgia. However, the State is refusing to let her sell her home until she pays off a 4- year-old lien for $37,000 imposed when she was raising her son as a single mother. This would consume much of the profit — and retirement security — she hoped to get by selling her house. 

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: At present, Connecticut residents 75 and over qualify to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Appointments can be made on-line or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare) or 860-679-4400 (UConn Health) or (877) 918-2224 (the state vaccine system).  

EVICTIONS 

Lack of data obscures true nature of eviction crisis:  One-third of US counties have no annual eviction figures. Even as city and state governments race to distribute the new rental assistance money appropriated by Congress, they are discovering that data about evictions is so poor, that they do not know who is losing their homes and how to focus aid. The solution is to create a federal eviction database to help track and address housing insecurity. While Connecticut has eviction data for the state collected by the Judicial Branch, the format of the data makes it difficult to access. 

Confidence in ability to pay rent or mortgage continues to fall: According to data collected by the Census Bureau in December 2020, the confidence of people in Connecticut who are Black or Latino to pay their rent or mortgage remains low. More than 21% of Latino homeowners have little or no confidence in their ability to pay next month’s mortgage compared to 15% of white renters. For people renting their homes, 43% of Latino renters and 45% of Black renters have little or no confidence in their ability to pay rent in January compared to only 25% of white renters. Finally, 100% of Latino renters and 55% of Black renters believe they are very likely or somewhat likely to face eviction in January or February 2021 while only 26% of white renters believe they will face eviction. Not one person of color who was surveyed believes they are not likely to face eviction at all. 

New report reveals the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women and girls in CT:  The Center provided data and analysis to Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund to be included in their report “Essential Equity: Women, COVID-19 and Rebuilding CT.”  

New CDC director extends federal eviction moratorium until at least March 31, 2021:  Shortly after President Biden was sworn in, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control announced an extension of the federal eviction moratorium to March 31, 2021. The CDC director will also begin a process to get input in needed improvements including whether to extend the moratorium until June 30, 2021 as proposed in President Biden’s COVID-19 relief package.  

Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium (discussed below) may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic and each adult in the household must meet specific requirements. To receive protection under the CDC moratorium, each adult in your household (18 or older) should:  

  • Read the Declaration form and its eligibility requirements carefully; 
  • Sign the Declaration form, if all the information is true about your situation; 
  • Give the Declaration form to the landlord; and 
  • Keep a copy of the signed Declaration. 

There are also two online platforms—here and here—that can help you sign the Declaration form electronically and email it to your landlord. If you already have an eviction case in court, you should also give copies of the declarations to the court. A summary of both the CDC moratorium and the Connecticut moratorium is available in English and Spanish. 

The Governor extended Connecticut’s eviction moratorium to February 9, 2021: Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9T extending Connecticut’s eviction moratorium to February 9, 2021, the day the Governor’s emergency powers are set to expire. Landlords are only permitted to start an eviction action if a tenant: 

a) owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020;  

b) owes six or more months’ worth of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020;  

c) created a serious nuisance; or  

d) has a lease that expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence. 

Responding to Eviction Papers: Tenants should not ignore eviction papers, filing deadlines, or notices about remote court events. Courts are entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file forms on time or attend remote court events. Once a Default Judgment is entered against a tenant, the landlord can ask the court for an execution. An execution gives the landlord permission to hire a marshal to remove the tenant. Learn more about the eviction court process

Remote Court Dates: Courts are scheduling remote trials, hearings, and mediations. Tenants should receive a notice from the court when a court date is scheduled. Tenants can also confirm if they have an upcoming court date by looking up their case on the Judicial website or contact the clerk’s office. Once on their case page, they can also sign up for email alerts about their case. If a court date is scheduled, tenants must attend either by video or phone—even if they have already given their landlord a CDC declaration. Tenant should make sure to send their email address and phone number to the email address listed on the court notice so that the court can send them a link to join the meeting via video or phone.  

The public costs of COVID-19 related evictions could top $1.2 billion in Connecticut: The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that the public costs of eviction related homelessness could go as high as $1.2 billion or as low as $628 million. The public costs of eviction related homelessness include shelter costs, inpatient medical care, and hospital emergency department costs among others. 

Researchers estimate 1,500 deaths and 17,000 infections were prevented by Connecticut’s eviction moratorium: The researchers who authored two recent studies that evaluated the effect  of the pandemic on tenants have applied their research to infection rates in states with eviction moratoria. The eviction moratorium in place between March and September in Connecticut which prohibited most landlords from doing anything to begin an eviction case is estimated to have saved 1,500 lives and prevented approximately 17,000 coronavirus infections. 

Connecticut Right to Counsel: In late December, a petition was launched by Central CT DSA that calls on Connecticut legislators to pass Right to Counsel legislation guaranteeing the right to no-cost legal counsel to all residential tenants facing eviction proceedings. The petition has received more than 800 signatures and 35 organizational endorsements, including from Connecticut Legal Services, Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, Connecticut AFL-CIO, Make the Road CT, National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, and New Haven Legal Assistance Association. Read, sign, and share the petition here

Rental assistance for people without legal status: The State’s rental assistance program for people without legal status is still open. To access this assistance, tenants should contact Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) at 1-203-612-5464 or rentalassist@cirict.org. More program information is available here, and a Spanish-language webinar is available here.   

211: Additional government assistance may be available through programs administered by local organizations and municipalities. Tenants may call 2-1-1 to confirm what rent and housing assistance is available in their area. 

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE 

Black Americans suffered the most under Trump-era consumer protection agency:  A new study published by two Boston College researchers, reveals that financial-services companies began to reduce settlements to consumers assumed to be Black or low-income as soon as the last administration came into office. The unequal results suggest that the financial services industry assumed the last administration would not be as strict with the financial services industry as the Obama administration. Consumers were less likely to receive restitution. 

HUD, USDA, VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac extend foreclosure moratorium:  HUD has extended the foreclosure moratorium for FHA loans through March 31, 2021. The moratorium prohibits lenders from filing foreclosure actions or moving foreclosures forward that have already been filed. The USDA and the VA have taken similar steps to extend their moratoria through March 31, 2021 and February 28, 2021, respectively. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have extended their foreclosure moratoria through February 28, 2021. The moratoria do not apply to properties that are vacant or abandoned.  

No foreclosure moratorium on mortgages that are not “federally-backed” or non-mortgage foreclosures: Homeowners whose mortgages are not “federally-backed” or who owe condominium fees, real estate taxes, or other real estate related taxes are not protected from foreclosure. See our website for more information. 

Homeowners have time to request a forbearance on FHA and USDA loans—Homeowners can still request forbearances if they are unable to pay the mortgage as the result of a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to request a forbearance ends on March 31, 2021 for both types of loans.  

Judicial Branch is scheduling remote hearings in foreclosure cases:  Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference if necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone. On December 17, 2020, the Center sent the Judicial Branch a letter reporting that self-represented parties in some larger judicial districts were being provided with only a few days’ notice by regular mail – for instance, being mailed a letter on Friday of a Monday morning hearing. The Judicial Branch recently reported that self-represented parties should now be receiving two weeks’ notice of any remote hearing. 

Affidavit required for foreclosure filings:  On September 24, the Judicial Branch issued a Standing Order that prohibits any foreclosure action from being filed or moving forward unless the bank or mortgage company files an affidavit stating that the loan is not a federally backed mortgage, is vacant, or is not in forbearance. If the affidavit is not filed with the Court, then the case may be dismissed.  

What should homeowners do? 

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone, and get some individualized questions answered in a way that they could at our in-person clinics or through the Judicial Branch’s Volunteer Attorney Program that we regularly staff during non-pandemic times. The program has been used by dozens of homeowners from across the state since it began last summer. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org

T-MAP program is shut down:  The T-MAP program is no longer accepting applications.  

UTILITIES 

Utilities must continue to offer payment plans to customers:  Utilities must now extend the availability of the 24-month COVID-19 payment plans until February 9, 2021. Any customer can call their utility company to set up a payment arrangement. COVID-19 payment plans are: 

  • Available to any customer requesting financial assistance, without demonstrating financial need; 
  • Require no initial or down payment; 
  • Can be up to 24 months in length; 
  • No fees or interest in the calculation of the monthly payment amount; 
  • Facilitate the repayment of past due balances in addition to the customer’s current monthly bill. 

Importantly, any customer enrolled in a COVID-19 Payment Plan who is current with their payment terms cannot be disconnected even after the shut-off moratoriums have concluded. 

Outreach: 

Public Official Outreach: Center staff continue to participate in Facebook Live, community Zoom meetings, and tele-townhalls with legislative officials. If you would like our assistance reaching your constituency, please contact our outreach coordinator rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

Staff continue to hold fair housing trainings and COVID-19 eviction and foreclosure prevention resource workshops via Zoom with social service agencies, direct service providers, community groups, and invested stakeholders. If your agency would find a short resource webinar or fair housing training helpful during this crisis please contact Rashida Rattray, the Center’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org 

Resources for tenants and homeowners:  

More COVID-19 resources can be found on our website.  

VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG.  

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

December 18, 2020

The Governor extended Connecticut’s eviction moratorium to February 9, 2021:  According to a report in the Hartford Courant, Connecticut’s eviction moratorium has been extended to February 9, 2021, the day the Governor’s emergency powers are set to expire. The Emergency Order has not been published yet, but it is expected to include all the current exceptions. Currently, landlords are permitted to start an eviction action if a tenant:

a) owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020;

b) owes six or more months’ worth of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020;

c) has created a serious nuisance; or

d) has a lease that expired, and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence.

The Legislature goes into session on January 6, 2021 and it has the power to extend the moratorium until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York State legislature has already done this. Stay tuned for more information about the Center’s efforts to ask legislators to help tenants facing eviction.

The last weekly update of the year will be published on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. We will resume publication during the first week in January 2021.

COVID-19 resources can be found on our website here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG, CLICK HERE.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER @CTFAIRHOUSING FOR UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

November 12, 2020

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center makes a commitment to fight on because too many people depend on us and our ability to fight for them. Neither the outcome of an election nor the spread of a deadly virus alters the fact that discrimination continues, and people are on the brink of losing their homes. Your support is needed now more than ever as we must fight on. #wefighton

What happened since November 5, 2020:

Since September 1, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:

  • Motions for Default have been filed—A Motion for Default is filed when a tenant misses a court deadline or a court event. If the Motion for Default is granted, the tenant automatically loses the case, and the landlord can ask the court to issue an execution.

TRHAP program reopens: The TRHAP program began accepting new applications on Monday, October 26. Since the program began in July, the State has received more than 10,000 calls for assistance. Of that number, more than 1,100 tenants have completed a full application and more than 800 landlords have been paid back rent. Some landlords are refusing to participate in the program because the $4,000 available under TRHAP does not pay all the back rent owed.

DOH recommends that tenants apply online at https://www.chfa.org/trhap/. However, the online form is still only available in English. Tenants who need assistance in Spanish and others who cannot apply online should call 1-860-785-3111 or 211.

Connecticut’s eviction crisis is not new:  In an editorial on the website, Connecticut by the Numbers, the Center’s eviction prevention staff along with New Haven Legal Assistance Association’s Deputy Director point out that as of 2016, eviction rates in four Connecticut cities were among the highest in the nation. Those numbers have not gone down. Evictions disproportionately impact Black and Latinx households. Due to decades of discrimination in housing and employment, Black and Latinx households in Connecticut earn lower wages, possess less wealth, and are less likely to own their homes—67% of Latinx households and 61% of Black households rent, compared to only 24% of white households. These numbers will continue to increase due to the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on communities of color.

Landlord survey reveals few tenants filing CDC declarations:  A survey in which more than 185 landlords participated, representing 26,600 apartments, reveals that landlords are receiving fewer than 1 CDC moratorium declaration per building. The CDC moratorium does not require that landlords or the court inform tenants of the CDC moratorium or the requirement that a tenant must complete a declaration in order to receive its protection.

Modifications to Connecticut eviction moratorium hurts tenants: On October 20, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9H, which changes the eviction moratorium issued just a few weeks ago. Instead of ensuring that the eviction moratorium covers most tenants, the new order places limits on the reach of the eviction moratorium at a time when the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing to levels not seen since early in the pandemic. There is a high risk that tenants and landlords will be confused about the reach of existing protections, and that some landlords will resort to intimidation to get tenants out.  

  • What Executive Order 9H does
  • Extends the Connecticut eviction moratorium to December 31, 2020 for some tenants;
  • Requires landlords to serve a CDC declaration in both English and Spanish with any Notice to Quit permitted by E.O. 9H, except Notices to Quit for serious nuisance;
  • Requires that any Notice to Quit or Complaint for a rental arrearage equal to or greater than six months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020 state the amount of the rent arrearage, the months for which rent was unpaid, and the amount unpaid for each of those months;
  • Requires that any Notice to Quit for rent due on or before February 29, 2020 specify and recite the period of nonpayment; and
  • Requires that any Notice to Quit based upon the bona fide intention by the landlord to use the unit for the landlord’s principal residence state that reason and specify the lease’s expiration date.
  • What Executive Order 9H does NOT do:
  • It does not prohibit landlords from starting an eviction court case if the tenant a) owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; b) owes six or more months’ worth of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020; c) has created a serious nuisance; or d) has a lease that expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence;
  • It does not stop the courts from holding court proceedings and issuing Executions in cases that were filed before the Connecticut moratorium began, and in cases that are not covered by the Connecticut moratorium.

What should tenants do?

Tenants may not be covered by the Connecticut moratorium for various reasons, including that (1) their landlord filed an eviction case before the Connecticut moratorium began on April 10, 2020; (2) they owe rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; (3) they owe six or more months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020; or (4) their lease has expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence.

  • Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the requirements a tenant must meet to qualify for the CDC moratorium. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give each declaration to the landlord. Information about the declaration and how to create one is also available in Spanish. In addition, there are online forms here and here that can generate the CDC declaration. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available here.
  • : Courts are scheduling remote hearings and mediations. Tenants should receive a notice from the court when a court date is scheduled. Tenants can also confirm if they have an upcoming court date by looking up their case on the Judicial website. Once on their case page, they can also sign up for email alerts about their case. If a court date is scheduled, tenants must attend either by video or phone—even if they have already given their landlord a CDC declaration. Tenant should make sure to send their email address and phone number to the email address listed on the court notice so that the court can send them a link to join the meeting via video or phone.
  • : Tenants should not ignore eviction papers, filing deadlines, or notices about remote court events. Courts have begun entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file forms on time or attend remote court events. Learn more about the eviction court process here.

Assistance for undocumented migrants: The State’s rental assistance program for undocumented migrants is now open. To access this assistance, people should contact Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) at 1-203-612-5464 or rentalassist@cirict.org.

211: Additional government assistance may be available. Tenants may call 2-1-1 to confirm what rent and housing assistance is available in their area.

Mortgage Foreclosure

Data shows Connecticut has the 7th highest number of serious foreclosure delinquencies in the country:  Data collected by CoreLogic reveals that every state had an increase in serious delinquencies, defined as 90 days or more past due including loans in foreclosure. Connecticut’s serious delinquency rate of 5.7% – about 1 of every 17 homeowners with a mortgage – ranks 7th in the country.

Affidavit required for foreclosure filings:  On September 24, the Judicial Branch issued a Standing Order that prohibits any foreclosure action from being filed or moving forward unless the bank or mortgage company files an affidavit stating that the loan is not a federally backed mortgage, is vacant, or is not in forbearance. If the affidavit is not filed with the Court, then the case may be dismissed.

Judicial Branch is scheduling remote hearings in foreclosure cases:  Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference if necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone. 

What should homeowners do?

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone, and get some individualized questions answered in a way that they could at our in-person clinics or through the Judicial Branch’s Volunteer Attorney Program that we regularly staff during non-pandemic times. The program has been used by dozens of homeowners from across the state since it began this summer. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Apply for T-MAP online:  The number of successful applications for the State’s TMAP program remains low. TMAP now has an on-line application in English. It has not yet been translated into Spanish. To apply for assistance by telephone, call 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here

Rising COVID-19 infections and hospitalization result in changes: Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9L which extends all Executive Orders that are unexpired and current to February 9, 2021. This does not apply to the eviction moratorium scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020. The rollback reduces the number of people who can visit most businesses and other public spaces at one time.

Utilities must continue to offer payment plans to delinquent consumers:  The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) did not extend the moratorium on all utility shutoffs. However, PURA did order utility companies to offer payment plans to all customers regardless of hardship. Customers may negotiate payment plans up to 24 months in length.

Connecticut churches ask the Governor to declare racism a public health crisis: On Thursday, November 12, 38 churches and more than 700 congregation members will meet with at least 17 lawmakers to ask for a legislative agenda that addresses racial inequities in housing, education, public safety and health or people of color in Connecticut and for Black residents in particular.

Filing exhibits in remote hearings and trials: The Judicial Branch has not provided clear guidance on how self-represented parties can submit exhibits. The Judicial Branch has announced that, starting on November 16, 2020, attorneys without an exemption from electronic services must submit all exhibit documents in Civil and Family matters electronically in PDF format via the Judicial E-Services site. The notice states that electronic submission of exhibits will be optional for self-represented parties, but it does not provide instructions for how else self-represented may submit exhibits. 

We have heard of the following court access problems: 

Outreach:

  • Center staff continue to participate in Facebook Live, community Zoom meetings, and tele-townhalls with legislative officials. If you would like our assistance reaching your constituency, please contact our outreach coordinator rrattray@ctfairhousing.org.

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

  • here for more information on the Connecticut and federal CDC moratoriums.  
  • here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
  • here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Our guidance is now available in 11 languages.)
  • The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
  • here.

More COVID-19 resources can be found on our website here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG, CLICK HERE.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER @CTFAIRHOUSING FOR UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

November 6, 2020

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center makes a commitment to fight on because too many people depend on us and our ability to fight for them. The outcome of an election or the spread of a deadly virus does not alter the fact that discrimination continues, and people are on the brink of losing their homes. Your support is needed now more than ever as we must fight on. #wefighton

What happened since October 29, 2020:

Utilities must continue to offer payment plans to delinquent consumers:  The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) did not extend the moratorium on all utility shutoffs. However, PURA did order utility companies to offer payment plans to all customers regardless of hardship. Customers are able to negotiate payment plans up to 24 months in length.

State rolls back to Phase 2: Because of the increase in COVID-19 infections as well as an increase in hospitalizations, Governor Lamont has announced that the State will rollback its business openings to Phase 2 beginning on Friday, November 6. The rollback reduces the number of people who can visit most businesses and other public spaces at one time.

Since September 1, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:

  • Motions for Default have been filed—A Motion for Default is filed when a tenant misses a court deadline or a court event. If the Motion for Default is granted, the tenant automatically loses the case, and the landlord can ask the court to issue an execution.

TRHAP program reopens: The TRHAP program began accepting new applications on Monday, October 26. Since then, approximately 2,500 submissions have been received. DOH recommends that tenants apply online at https://www.chfa.org/trhap/. However, the online form is still only available in English. Tenants who need assistance in Spanish and others who cannot apply online should call 1-860-785-3111 or 211.

Modifications to Connecticut eviction moratorium hurts tenants: On October 20, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9H, which changes the eviction moratorium issued just a few weeks ago. Instead of ensuring that the eviction moratorium covers most tenants, the new order places limits on the reach of the eviction moratorium at a time when the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing to levels not seen since early in the pandemic. There is a high risk that tenants and landlords will be confused about the reach of existing protections, and that some landlords will resort to intimidation to get tenants out.   

CDC declaration in both English and Spanish with any Notice to Quit permitted by E.O. 9H, except Notices to Quit for serious nuisance; owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; b) owes six or more months’ worth of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020; c) has created a serious nuisance; or d) has a lease that expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence.

What should tenants do?

Tenants may not be covered by the Connecticut moratorium for various reasons, including that (1) their landlord filed an eviction case before the Connecticut moratorium began on April 10, 2020; (2) they owe rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; (3) they owe six or more months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020; or (4) their lease has expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence.

  • : Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the requirements a tenant must meet to qualify for the CDC moratorium. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give each declaration to the landlord. Information about the declaration and how to create one is also available in Spanish. In addition, there are online forms here and here that can generate the CDC declaration. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available here.
  • : Courts are scheduling remote hearings and mediations. If a tenant receives notice of a remote hearing or mediation, the tenant must attend either by video or phone, even if they have already given their landlord a CDC declaration. The tenant should make sure to send their email address and phone number to the email address listed on the notice so that the court can send them the meeting invitation.
  • : Tenants should not ignore eviction papers, filing deadlines, or notices about remote court events. Courts have begun entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file forms on time or attend remote court events. Learn more about the eviction court process here.

Assistance for people without legal status: The State’s rental assistance program for people without legal status is now open. To access this assistance, people should contact Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) at 1-203-612-5464 or rentalassist@cirict.org.

211: Additional government assistance may be available. Tenants may call 211 to confirm what rent and housing assistance is available in their area.

Mortgage Foreclosure

Foreclosure risk is growing:  A recent blog post from LISC, shows that seven months into the pandemic, there are more than 1 million households that are past due on their mortgage payments and not protected by a forbearance program. They are at near-term risk of foreclosure. Another 4 million households are in forbearance on their loans, and so are able to forestall their payments and avoid immediate loss. But they will be facing a significant financial burden to begin catching later this year or next and may ultimately find themselves unable to pay. The loss of wealth to these households—especially in communities of color, where many homeowners never fully recovered from the last economic downturn—could impact generations to come.

Affidavit required for foreclosure filings:  On September 24, the Judicial Branch issued a Standing Order that prohibits any foreclosure action from being filed or moving forward unless the bank or mortgage company files an affidavit stating that the loan is not a federally backed mortgage, is vacant, or is not in forbearance. If the affidavit is not filed with the Court, then the case may be dismissed.

Judicial Branch is scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases:  Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference if necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone. 

What should homeowners do?

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone, and get some individualized questions answered in a way that they could at our in-person clinics or through the Judicial Branch’s Volunteer Attorney Program that we regularly staff during non-pandemic times. The program has been used by dozens of homeowners from across the state since it began this summer. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable amount of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Apply for T-MAP online:  The number of successful applications for the State’s TMAP program remains low. TMAP now has an on-line application in English. It has not yet been translated into Spanish. To apply for assistance by telephone, call 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here

Nationwide, landlords seek to overturn CDC moratoriumFederal lawsuits filed in Georgia and Ohio are the first of more to come as landlords seek to overturn an order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent homelessness and COVID-19 spread by halting many evictions through Dec. 31. Fortunately, the Federal Court judge in Georgia denied the request to halt the implementation of the CDC moratorium citing research from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Eviction Lab demonstrating that the CDC moratorium will halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Trump son-in-law moves to evict hundreds of tenants:  A real estate management company owned in part by the President’s son-in-law has filed hundreds of eviction cases in court seeking to remove low and moderate income tenants from their homes for non-payment of rent. While Maryland, where the housing is located, prevents landlords from removing tenants from their homes, tenants are being threatened with additional fees and costs if they do not leave.

CDC moratorium is not helping tenants stay in their homes:  Anchored in public health concerns that the economic stress of the pandemic will force millions of renters from the safety of their homes and into the crosshairs of a fast-spreading virus, the CDC order was designed to keep the estimated 40 million renters facing eviction this year in place through Jan. 1. “I want to make it unmistakably clear that I’m protecting people from evictions,” President Trump said in a statement when the CDC order was announced. Unfortunately, as tens of thousands of renters soon realized, rather than offer a bubble of stability in the midst of the pandemic, the federal response has injected confusion into housing courts. Because of the order’s wording, which gives local judges room for interpretation, and pushback from landlords, evictions have continued.

Courts have difficulty finding jurors:  A Connecticut Federal Court may have to postpone the State’s first post COVID-19 criminal trial because many people called to jury duty are refusing to serve for fear of becoming infected.

We have heard of the following court access problems: 

Outreach:

  • Center staff continue to participate in Facebook Live, community Zoom meetings, and tele-townhalls with legislative officials. If you would like our assistance reaching your constituency, please contact our outreach coordinator rrattray@ctfairhousing.org.

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

  • here for more information on the Connecticut and federal CDC moratoriums.  
  • here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
  • here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Our guidance is now available in 11 languages.)
  • The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
  • here.

More COVID-19 resources can be found on our website here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG, CLICK HERE.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER @CTFAIRHOUSING FOR UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

We Fight On

Dear Supporters,

Yesterday I reminded the staff of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center that we fight on.

Too many people depend on us and our ability to fight for them. The outcome of an election or the spread of a deadly virus does not alter the fact that discrimination continues and people are on the brink of losing their homes. We must fight on.

Since the declaration of the COVID-19 public health crisis, our call volume has tripled. Despite homeschooling children, fear of infection, and problems with working remotely, Center staff have risen to meet this demand, because we fight on.

Repeatedly, State and Federal pandemic relief strategies and funding have ignored the needs of our clients and have reinforced systemic housing policies that maintain racial inequities. In response we asked the Governor for anti-racist pandemic relief policy. We developed and implemented a new program at the Center to prevent evictions. We hired two new staff members to increase our capacity. We continued to produce outreach materials for our clients that have been viewed almost 100,000 times, because we fight on.

We have learned from history that pandemic recovery for Black, Latinx, and People of Color will take at least a decade. And we will fight on.

We need your support to help us protect housing stability for people of color, to advocate for anti-racist policies, to preserve homeownership especially for people of color, to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, and to fight on.

Please make a donation to the Center to support us as we fight on.

Sincerely,

Erin Kemple

Executive Director

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

October 29, 2020

October 29, 2020

What happened since October 22, 2020:

Since September 1, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:

  • Landlords have filed 481 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • 490 Motions for Default have been filed—A Motion for Default is filed when a tenant misses a court deadline or a court event. If the Motion for Default is granted, the tenant automatically loses the case, and the landlord can ask the court to issue an Execution.
  • Landlords have requested 306 Executions—If a court issues an Execution, the landlord can hire a marshal to move a tenant out.
  • Courts have issued 166 Executions.

TRHAP program reopens: The TRHAP program began accepting new applications on Monday, October 26. DOH recommends that tenants apply online in English and Spanish at https://www.chfa.org/trhap/. The call center is also available to take applications at 1-860-785-3111.

Modifications to Connecticut eviction moratorium hurts tenants: On October 20, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9H, which changes the eviction moratorium issued just a few weeks ago. Instead of ensuring that the eviction moratorium covers most tenants, the new order places limits on the reach of the eviction moratorium at a time when the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing to levels not seen since early in the pandemic. There is a high risk that tenants and landlords will be confused about the reach of existing protections, and that some landlords will resort to intimidation to get tenants out.  

  • What Executive Order 9H does: 
  • Extends the Connecticut eviction moratorium to December 31, 2020 for some tenants;
  • Requires landlords to serve a CDC declaration in both English and Spanish with any Notice to Quit permitted by E.O. 9H, except Notices to Quit for serious nuisance;
  • Requires that any Notice to Quit or Complaint for a rental arrearage equal to or greater than six months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020 state the amount of the rent arrearage, the months for which rent was unpaid, and the amount unpaid for each of those months;
  • Requires that any Notice to Quit for rent due on or before February 29, 2020 specify and recite the period of nonpayment; and
  • Requires that any Notice to Quit based upon the bona fide intention by the landlord to use the unit for the landlord’s principal residence state that reason and specify the lease’s expiration date.
  • What Executive Order 9H does NOT do:
  • It does not prohibit landlords from starting an eviction court case if the tenant a) owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; b) owes six or more months’ worth of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020; c) has created a serious nuisance; or d) has a lease that expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence;
  • It does not stop the courts from holding court proceedings and issuing Executions in cases that were filed before the Connecticut moratorium began, and in cases that are not covered by the Connecticut moratorium.

What should tenants do?

Tenants may not be covered by the Connecticut moratorium for various reasons, including that (1) their landlord filed an eviction case before the Connecticut moratorium began on April 10, 2020; (2) they owe rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; (3) they owe six or more months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020; or (4) their lease has expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence.

  • CDC Moratorium: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the requirements a tenant must meet to qualify for the CDC moratorium. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give each declaration to the landlord. Information about the declaration and how to create one is also available in Spanish. In addition, there are online forms here and here that can generate the CDC declaration. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available here.
  • Remote Court Proceedings: Courts are scheduling remote hearings and mediations. If a tenant receives notice of a remote hearing or mediation, the tenant must attend either by video or phone, even if they have already given their landlord a CDC declaration. The tenant should make sure to send their email address and phone number to the email address listed on the notice so that the court can send them the meeting invitation.
  • Responding to Eviction Papers: Tenants should not ignore eviction papers, filing deadlines, or notices about remote court events. Courts have begun entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file forms on time or attend remote court events. Learn more about the eviction court process here.

Assistance for people without legal status: The State’s rental assistance program for people without legal status is now open. To access this assistance, people should contact Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) at 1-203-612-5464 or rentalassist@cirict.org.

211: Additional government assistance may be available. Tenants may call 211 to confirm what rent and housing assistance is available in their area.

Mortgage Foreclosure

Foreclosure risk is growing:  A recent blog post from LISC, shows that seven months into the pandemic, there are more than 1 million households that are past due on their mortgage payments and not protected by a forbearance program. They are at near-term risk of foreclosure. Another 4 million households are in forbearance on their loans, and so are able to forestall their payments and avoid immediate loss. But they will be facing a significant financial burden to begin catching later this year or next, and may ultimately find themselves unable to pay. The loss of wealth to these households—especially in communities of color, where many homeowners never fully recovered from the last economic downturn—could impact generations to come.

Affidavit required for foreclosure filings:  On September 24, the Judicial Branch issued a Standing Order that prohibits any foreclosure action from being filed or moving forward unless the bank or mortgage company files an affidavit stating that the loan is not a federally backed mortgage, is vacant, or is not in forbearance. If the affidavit is not filed with the Court, then the case may be dismissed.

Judicial Branch is scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases:  Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference if necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone. 

What should homeowners do?

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone, and get some individualized questions answered in a way that they could at our in-person clinics or through the Judicial Branch’s Volunteer Attorney Program that we regularly staff during non-pandemic times. The program has been used by dozens of homeowners from across the state since it began this summer. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable amount of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Apply for T-MAP online:  The number of successful applications for the State’s TMAP program remains low. TMAP now has an on-line application in English. It has not yet been translated into Spanish. To apply for assistance by telephone, call 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here

City of New Haven Rental Assistance Program: The City of New Haven’s rental assistance program promised to provide up to $3,000 in rental help for eligible low-income families who have struggled to make ends meet during the Covid-19 pandemic. The program also makes available up to $4,000 to local homeowners to assist with mortgage modification or forbearance. ERF aims to support renters already in housing court who have been affected by COVID-19 by covering up to $3,000 in back rent. To date, no money has been paid out through the program. The city is still accepting applications for housing aid. Interested applicants can call the city at 203-946-7090 or email castle@newhavenct.gov.

CDC moratorium is not helping tenants stay in their homes:  Anchored in public health concerns that the economic stress of the pandemic will force millions of renters from the safety of their homes and into the crosshairs of a fast-spreading virus, the CDC order was designed to keep the estimated 40 million renters facing eviction this year in place through Jan. 1. “I want to make it unmistakably clear that I’m protecting people from evictions,” President Trump said in a statement when the CDC order was announced. Unfortunately, as tens of thousands of renters soon realized, rather than offer a bubble of stability in the midst of the pandemic, the federal response has injected confusion into housing courts. Because of the order’s wording, which gives local judges room for interpretation, and pushback from landlords, evictions have continued.

Digital divide hits people of color the hardest: Many Connecticut homes lack computers and reliable internet connections with nearly 20% of all homes lacking a computer and 25% lack reliable internet. People of color are most impacted by the digital divide with 37% of Hispanic residents, 31% of Black residents and 37% of Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, New Britain, and Bridgeport residents did not have working computers. Statewide, 20% of Connecticut households did not have a desktop or a laptop. While this lack of access to the internet makes learning and working from home more challenging for people living in Connecticut’s cities, it also puts tenants and homeowners in a precarious position if they must participate in remote hearings to save their homes.

We have heard of the following court access problems: 

Utility moratorium will end on October 31:  Any residential customer having trouble paying their utility bills should contact their utility company and ask whether they are eligible to be “coded hardship.” If the customer is coded hardship, the utility company will not be able to shut off their utilities during the winter months. Special financial assistance programs are available to hardship customers. For more information, see this Operation Fuel website. Second, if a customer is ineligible for hardship status, they should ask to be placed on a COVID-19 Payment Plan. Enrollment for the COVID-19 Payment Program for residential customers is open until November 1, 2020.

Outreach:

  • Center staff continue to participate in Facebook Live, community Zoom meetings, and tele-townhalls with legislative officials. If you would like our assistance reaching your constituency, please contact our outreach coordinator rrattray@ctfairhousing.org.

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

  • here for more information on the Connecticut and federal CDC moratoriums.  
  • here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
  • here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Our guidance is now available in 11 languages.)
  • The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
  • here.

More COVID-19 resources can be found on our website here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG, CLICK HERE.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER @CTFAIRHOUSING FOR UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

October 22, 2020

What happened since October 15, 2020:

Modifications to Connecticut eviction moratorium hurt tenants: On October 20, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9H, which changes the eviction moratorium issued just a few weeks ago. Instead of ensuring that the eviction moratorium covers most tenants, the new order places limits on the reach of the eviction moratorium at a time when the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing to levels not seen since early in the pandemic. There is a high risk that tenants and landlords will be confused about the reach of existing protections, and that some landlords will resort to intimidation to get tenants out.

  • What Executive Order 9H does:
  • Extends the Connecticut eviction moratorium to December 31, 2020 for some tenants;
  • Requires landlords to serve a CDC declaration in both English and Spanish with any Notice to Quit permitted by E.O. 9H, except Notices to Quit for serious nuisance;
  • Requires that any Notice to Quit or Complaint for a rental arrearage equal to or greater than six months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020 state the amount of the rent arrearage, the months for which rent was unpaid, and the amount unpaid for each of those months;
  • Requires that any Notice to Quit for rent due on or before February 29, 2020 specify and recite the period of nonpayment; and
  • Requires that any Notice to Quit based upon the bona fide intention by the landlord to use the unit for the landlord’s principal residence state that reason and specify the lease’s expiration date.
  • What Executive Order 9H does NOT do:
  • It does not prohibit the service of a Notice to Quit or Summons and Complaint if the tenant a) owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; b) owes six or more months’ worth of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020; c) has created a serious nuisance; or d) has a lease that expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence;
  • It does not stop the courts from holding court proceedings, entering judgments, and issuing executions in cases that were filed before the Connecticut moratorium began, or in cases that are not covered by the Connecticut moratorium.

What should tenants do?

Tenants may not be covered by the Connecticut moratorium for various reasons, including that (1) their landlord filed an eviction case before the Connecticut moratorium began on April 10, 2020; (2) they owe rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; (3) they owe six or more months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020; or (4) their lease has expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence.

  • CDC Moratorium: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the requirements a tenant must meet to qualify for the CDC moratorium. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give each declaration to the landlord. Information about the declaration and how to create one is also available in Spanish. In addition, there are online forms here and here that can generate the CDC declaration. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available here.
  • Remote Court Proceedings: Courts are scheduling remote hearings and mediations. If a tenant receives notice of a remote hearing or mediation, the tenant must attend either by video or phone, even if they have already given their landlord a CDC declaration. The tenant should make sure to send their email address and phone number to the email address listed on the notice so that the court can send them the meeting invitation.
  • Responding to Eviction Papers: Tenants should not ignore any eviction papers they receive. It a tenant receives a Summons and Complaint, the tenant should follow the instructions on the Summons for completing and filing their Appearance and Answer forms with the court within 2 business days of the Return Date. The suspension of the deadline to file Appearance and Answer forms has been lifted, and courts have begun entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file these forms on time. Learn more about the eviction court process here.

Landlords have filed motions for default in 203 cases since September 14: In addition, motions for default were pending in more than 2,000 cases. “Pending” means no action has been taken on the motion.

Landlords have requested more than 165 executions since September 1: The executions requested beginning on September 1 are in addition to the 725 requests filed since March 1 which are still awaiting hearing. If an execution has been requested by a landlord in a case involving nonpayment, the tenants are supposed to receive notice from court staff which provides instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing about the execution and applicability of the CDC moratorium either by video or phone. Executions in other types of cases are being signed without providing tenants with the opportunity for a hearing and without verifying if the landlord received a CDC declaration from the tenant.

Courts have issued 147 executions in summary process cases since September 1, 2020:  Issuance of an execution means that the landlord is permitted to have a marshal physically remove a tenant and their belongings from their home.

TRHAP program changes: The TRHAP program is expected to begin accepting new applications on Monday, October 26. DOH recommends that tenants apply online at https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/TRHAP, although the call center will also be available to take applications at 1-860-785-3111.

 Assistance for people without legal status: The State’s rental assistance program for people without legal status is now open. To access this assistance, people should contact Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) at 1-203-612-5464 or rentalassist@cirict.org.

211: Tenants may call 211 to confirm what rent and housing assistance is available in their area.

Mortgage Foreclosure

 CT has sixth highest delinquency rate in the country: A new report from CoreLogic shows that Connecticut has the 6th highest delinquency rate in the country with New York and New Jersey ranking first and second.

Affidavit required for foreclosure filings:  On September 24, the Judicial Branch issued a Standing Order that prohibits any foreclosure action from being filed or moving forward unless the bank or mortgage company files an affidavit stating that the loan is not a federally backed mortgage, is vacant, or is not in forbearance. If the affidavit is not filed with the Court, then the case may be dismissed.

 Judicial Branch is scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases:  Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference if necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone.

What should homeowners do?

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone, and get some individualized questions answered in a way that they could at our in-person clinics or through the Judicial Branch’s Volunteer Attorney Program that we regularly staff during non-pandemic times. The program has been used by dozens of homeowners from across the state since it began this summer. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable amount of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Apply for T-MAP online:  The number of successful applications for the State’s TMAP program remains low. TMAP now has an on-line application in English. It has not yet been translated into Spanish. To apply for assistance by telephone, call 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here

We have heard the following problems with remote hearings and court access: 

  • Tenants do not know how to install the “Teams” app used for remote hearings;
  • Tenants do not have enough space on their phones to download the Teams app;
  • Tenants could not connect with the court through the Teams app;
  • Downloading the Teams app takes a very long time, and often the program closes before the full download occurs;
  • Tenants who are unable to use the Teams app can only participate in the hearing by phone;
  • Tenants who are on the telephone are not able to see what is happening and do not know what to do once they connect;
  • Tenants who do not have access to a phone or computer are not given an in-person option, so they are unable to attend.
  • Tenants are given only 5 days’ notice of a hearing;
  • Some tenants are not receiving mail in a timely manner, so they only receive notice of the hearing after they’ve already missed it;
  • Tenants receive notice of the remote hearing, but the notice does not include the date and time of the hearing;
  • Hearing notices are not translated for people with LEP;
  • Hearing notices tell tenants to call the clerk’s office to receive information about how to participate in a remote hearing, but when tenants call the clerk’s office they hear a recording directing them to call another phone number that is not always answered;
  • Tenants who receive notice of the hearing do not understand that they must give the court their email address to receive access to the hearing;
  • Hearing notice emails that include the phrase “do not delete” are deleted once the hearing is accepted;
  • Judges are not asking court personnel if tenants were ever contacted by the Court regarding notice of the hearing;
  • Judges are not determining if the landlord has received a CDC declaration;
  • Mediators are not determining if the landlord has received a CDC declaration;
  • Tenants who have given their landlord a CDC declaration are challenged by landlords who say the declaration is not true;
  • When an attorney for the landlord did not show up, the Court called him and allowed him to join the remote hearing late. No calls made to tenants when they do not appear;
  • Some marshals refuse to let lawyers and tenants into courthouses to file documents;
  • Some courts fail to provide a means for lawyers and the public to observe hearings. 

Massachusetts spends $171 million to prevent evictions:  Massachusetts will spend more than $171 million to support new and expanded housing stability programs during the remainder of 2020. The State has announced it will spend $100 million on an emergency rental assistance program, $12.3 million to provide access to legal services, and $50 million for post-eviction rapid rehousing.

Utility moratorium will end on October 31:  Any residential customer having trouble paying their utility bills should contact their utility company and ask whether they are eligible to be “coded hardship.” If the customer is coded hardship, the utility company will not be able to shut off their utilities during the winter months. Special financial assistance programs are available to hardship customers. For more information, see this Operation Fuel website. Second, if a customer is ineligible for hardship status, they should ask to be placed on a COVID-19 Payment Plan. Enrollment for the COVID-19 Payment Program for residential customers is open until November 1, 2020.

Outreach:

  • Public Official Outreach: Center staff continue to participate in Facebook Live, community Zoom meetings, and tele-townhalls with legislative officials. If you would like our assistance reaching your constituency, please contact our outreach coordinator rrattray@ctfairhousing.org.
  • Staff continue to hold fair housing trainings and COVID-19 housing resource workshops via Zoom with social service agencies, direct service providers, and invested stakeholders. If your agency would find a short resource webinar or fair housing training helpful during this crisis please contact Rashida Rattray, the Center’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

  • Click here for more information on the Connecticut and federal CDC moratoriums.
  • Click here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
  • Click here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Our guidance is now available in 11 languages.)
  • Need to have your subsidized rent recalculated due to income loss? The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
  • To sign up for our weekly update fill out the form

More COVID-19 resources can be found on our website here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG, CLICK HERE.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER @CTFAIRHOUSING FOR UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

October 15, 2020

Connecticut Eviction Moratorium Extended through December 31, 2020:  Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9E extending the Connecticut eviction moratorium for some tenants.

  • What Executive Order 9E does: 
  • Prohibits the service of a Notice to Quit or a Summary Process complaint through December 31 for some tenants;
  • Requires landlords to serve a CDC declaration in both English and Spanish with any Notice to Quit permitted by EO 9E;
  • Mandates that once a landlord or a landlord’s attorney receives a CDC declaration, the landlord must immediately cease all action to evict through December 31;
  • Requires that any notice to quit or summary process complaint for a rent arrearage equal to or greater than six months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020 must state the amount of the rent arrearage, the months for which rent was unpaid, and the amount unpaid for each of those months;
  • What Executive Order 9E does NOT do:
  • It does not prohibit the service of a notice to quit or summary process complaint if the tenant a) owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; b) owes six or more months of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020; c) has created a serious nuisance; or c) has a lease that expired and the landlord wants to use the unit as their primary residence;
  • It does not stop the courts from holding court proceedings or issuing judgments in cases where the landlord has not received a CDC declaration and the case was either filed before the Connecticut moratorium began, or qualifies as an exception under the Connecticut moratorium, and
  • It does not stop the courts from issuing executions in cases where the landlord has not received a CDC declaration.

What should landlords do?

If a landlord or a landlord’s attorney receives a CDC declaration, EO 9E requires that they immediately cease all action to evict through December 31.

What should tenants do?

Tenants may not be covered by the Connecticut moratorium for various reasons, including that (1) they owe rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020, (2) they owe six or more months of rent due on or after March 1, 2020, and (3) they have a lease that expired and the landlord wants to use the unit as their primary residence. If these tenants cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills, they may still qualify for the CDC moratorium. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is NOT automatic.

Tenants should begin by carefully reading the requirements a tenant must meet to qualify for the CDC moratorium. If every person over 18 in the household meets the qualifications, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give each declaration to the landlord. Information about the declaration and how to create one are also available in Spanish. In addition, there are on-line forms that can be found here and here that can generate the CDC declaration. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available here.

If a tenant receives notice that their landlord has requested the issuance of an execution and a remote hearing has been scheduled, tenants must attend the remote hearing either by video or phone, even if they have already given their landlord a CDC declaration. The notice to the tenant about the request for the execution should also include an email address where the tenant can get answers to questions regarding remote hearings.

If a tenant has not filed an Appearance or Answer in their eviction case, the tenant should do so immediately. Courts have lifted the suspension on deadlines to file these papers and have begun entering Default Judgments. Learn more about the eviction court process here.

Landlords have filed motions for default in 184 cases since September 14: In addition, motions for default were pending in more than 2,000 cases. “Pending” means no action has been taken on the motion.

Landlords have requested more than 125 executions since September 1: The executions requested beginning on September 1 are in addition to the 725 requests filed since March 1 which are still awaiting hearing. If an execution has been requested by a landlord in a case involving nonpayment, the tenants are supposed to receive notice from court staff which provides instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing about the execution and applicability of the CDC moratorium either by video or phone. Executions in other types of cases are being signed without providing tenants with the opportunity for a hearing.

We have heard the following problems with remote hearings and court access: 

  • Tenants do not know how to install the “Teams” app used for remote hearings;
  • Tenants do not have enough space on their phones to download the Teams app;
  • Tenants could not connect with the court through the Teams app;
  • Downloading the Teams app takes a very long time, and often the program closes before the full download occurs;
  • Tenants who are unable to use the Teams app can only participate in the hearing by phone;
  • Tenants who are on the telephone are not able to see what is happening and do not know what to do once they connect;
  • Tenants who do not have access to a phone or computer are not given an in-person option, so they are unable to attend.
  • Tenants are given only 5 days’ notice of a hearing;
  • Some tenants are not receiving mail in a timely manner, so they only receive notice of the hearing after they’ve already missed it;
  • Tenants receive notice of the remote hearing, but the notice does not include the date and time of the hearing;
  • Hearing notices are not translated for people with LEP;
  • Hearing notices tell tenants to call the clerk’s office to receive information about how to participate in a remote hearing, but when tenants call the clerk’s office they hear a recording directing them to call another phone number that is not always answered;
  • Tenants who receive notice of the hearing do not understand that they must give the court their email address to receive access to the hearing;
  • Hearing notice emails that include the phrase “do not delete” are deleted once the hearing is accepted;
  • Judges are not asking court personnel if tenants were ever contacted by the Court regarding notice of the hearing;
  • Judges are not determining if the landlord has received a CDC declaration;
  • Mediators are not determining if the landlord has received a CDC declaration;
  • Tenants who have given their landlord a CDC declaration are challenged by landlords who say the declaration is not true;
  • When an attorney for the landlord did not show up, the Court called him and allowed him to join the remote hearing late. No calls made to tenants when they do not appear;
  • Some marshals refuse to let lawyers and tenants into courthouses to file documents;
  • Some courts fail to provide a means for lawyers and the public to observe hearings.

TRHAP program changes: Governor Lamont announced an additional $20 million would be added to the TRHAP program bringing the total amount for TRHAP to $40 million. DOH states that the program will reopen for new applications in mid-October. In addition, CHFA has assigned 30 staff members to help process the nearly 5,100 pre-applications already received. This brings the total number of staff working on this project to 45. DOH has reduced the paperwork required for tenants to complete an application. When the program reopens, tenants will be able to apply on-line and upload the verifications they need. The goal is to have the tenant go from pre-application to full application within 5 business days. Tenants without internet access will still be able to contact the call center and 211 to put in an application. The on-line application portal will be in English and Spanish.  

Mortgage Foreclosure

CT has sixth highest delinquency rate in the country: A new report from CoreLogic shows that Connecticut has the 6th highest delinquency rate in the country with New York and New Jersey ranking first and second.

FHA loans: The number of FHA loans that are delinquent has risen to 24.2% in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk MSA and to 20.2% in the New Haven-Milford MSA. The Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown MSA is the lowest in Connecticut at a still startlingly 18.2%. If even one-third of all these loans go into foreclosure, this will result in substantial homeownership loss for communities of color.

Affidavit required for foreclosure filings:  On September 24, the Judicial Branch issued a Standing Order that prohibits any foreclosure action from being filed or moving forward unless the bank or mortgage company files an affidavit states that the loan is not a federally backed mortgage, is vacant, or is not in forbearance. If the affidavit is not filed with the Court, then the case may be dismissed.

Judicial Branch is scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases:  Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference is necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone. 

What should homeowners do?

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone, and get some individualized questions answered in a way that they could at our in-person clinics or through the Judicial Branch’s Volunteer Attorney Program. The program began on August 7, with 8 slots weekly and has been used by several homeowners from across the state each of the past few weeks. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable amount of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org

Apply for T-MAP on-line:  The number of successful applications for the State’s TMAP program remains low. TMAP now has an on-line application in English. It has not yet been translated into Spanish. To apply for assistance by telephone, call 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here

Helping all Connecticut residents toward recovery: In a published recent op-ed in ctmirror.org, Ashley Blount, an organizer with CancelRentCT, pointed out the unending cycle of implementing an eviction moratorium, nearly waiting for it to expire, and implementing a new moratorium has placed a constant mental and emotional strain on the tens of thousands of folks facing house insecurity, the small landlords who have also been deprived of income, and the individuals and organizations on the ground working to prevent a housing crisis. The pandemic has already exposed all the ways our systems leave Black, brown, low-income, and other marginalized communities behind. Black and brown communities especially have been disproportionately impacted by all coronavirus related issues and the housing crisis is shaping up to be no different. Instead, Connecticut needs to cut the red tape and implement relief on a massive scale.

Connecticut’s cities need help digging out of the pandemic: A new series in the CT Mirror, starts with the premise that Connecticut is one of the most dramatically unequal states in the country. By almost every metric, from employment and housing to health care and life expectancy, the predominantly minority urban poor were getting the short end of the stick. Nearly 20% of Black and 23% of Hispanic residents lived in poverty before the pandemic, compared to 6% of whites, according to a major report by the New Haven-based nonprofit research firm DataHaven. The COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant economic recession made a bad situation worse. Connecticut must help all cities recover and thrive to ensure that the current inequality does not continue.

Short calendar resumes:  As of October 13, 2020, the Judicial Branch has resumed its weekly processing of thousands of filings in foreclosure cases each week.

Tenants in Minneapolis bought their multifamily building from their landlord: Tenants living in bad conditions in Minneapolis mounted a campaign that sought repairs and the removal of their landlord’s license to rent. This summer, they bought their buildings from their landlord and are now able to control their homes.

Utility moratorium will end on October 31:  Any residential customer having trouble paying their utility bills should contact their utility company and ask whether they are eligible to be “coded hardship.” If the customer is coded hardship, the utility company will not be able to shut off their utilities during the winter months. Special financial assistance programs are available to hardship customers. For more information, see this Operation Fuel website. Second, if a customer is ineligible for hardship status, they should ask to be placed on a COVID-19 Payment Plan. Enrollment for the COVID-19 Payment Program for residential customers is open until November 1, 2020.

Outreach

  • Center staff continue to participate in Facebook Live, community Zoom meetings, and tele-townhalls with legislative officials. If you would like our assistance reaching your constituency, please contact our outreach coordinator rrattray@ctfairhousing.org.

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

  • here for more information on the Connecticut and CDC moratoria.  
  • here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
  • here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Our guidance is now available in 11 languages.)
  • The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
  • here.

More COVID-19 resources can be found on our websitehere.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG, CLICK HERE.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER @CTFAIRHOUSING FOR UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

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