DISCRIMINATORY ACTIONS BY TOWN OFFICIALS WILL COST CROMWELL $5 MILLON

On Friday, October 15, 2021, a federal jury found the town of Cromwell liable for the discriminatory behavior that forced the closure of a home for adults with disabilities in 2015. The jury awarded the group home provider, Gilead Community Services, $5 million in punitive damages and $181,000 in compensatory damages, sending a clear message to town officials that their actions violated federal civil rights laws.

In 2015, Gilead Community Services purchased a single-family home on Reiman Drive in Cromwell to serve as a community-based residence for six men with mental health disabilities. In response to the purchase, city officials in Cromwell staged a battle against Gilead and their clients through a series of overtly discriminatory actions making it clear that individuals with disabilities were not welcome.

Cromwell officials began their public attack during a forum about Gilead’s planned operations for 5 Reiman Drive, which gave town residents the opportunity to spew hatred and discrimination. The next day, Cromwell issued a press release asking Gilead to relocate the home. Then Cromwell petitioned the Department of Public Health to deny Gilead the ability to operate. When these strategies were unsuccessful, Cromwell wrongly issued a cease-and-desist order and refused to grant Gilead tax-exempt status as it had in the past. The actions of the Town of Cromwell caused Gilead to close the home.

“However, the true victims, the six men who only wanted housing free from discrimination, will likely never return to Cromwell, and now live with the understanding that because of their disabilities they are not welcome in all communities.”

Erin kemple, Executive Director for the Connecticut Fair Housing Center

“By making such a large punitive damages award, the jury recognized and rejected the intentional, illegal acts of town officials. I hope this serves as a message to other municipalities that they cannot refuse to allow people with disabilities to move into their communities,” said Erin Kemple, Executive Director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, one of the co-plaintiffs in the case. “However, the true victims, the six men who only wanted housing free from discrimination, will likely never return to Cromwell, and now live with the understanding that because of their disabilities they are not welcome in all communities.”

In 2017, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center and Gilead Community Services, represented by Washington, D.C. firm Relman Colfax, filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Town of Cromwell. The case claimed that the intentional discriminatory actions of town officials in Cromwell violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Call to Action: Stop Evictions

The Supreme Court has ended the CDC’s eviction moratorium. All levels of government must take immediate action to stop evictions and improve the distribution of rental assistance (and we must continue to organize tenants to take collective action to stop evictions, permanently).  

  1. Tell the state to stop evictions. 
  • Contact
  • Government Lamont must issue an executive order staying all evictions and new eviction filings until the Right to Counsel for Tenants program goes into effect, and his emergency authority should be extended to facilitate this.
  • Government Lamont’s existing executive order requiring landlords to apply for UniteCT before filing evictions and temporarily staying evictions when a UniteCT application is made must be improved, extended for the duration of the pandemic, and continue to remain in effect once the Right to Counsel for Tenants program begins. The order must:
    • Require all landlords with pending eviction cases to apply for UniteCT (which means accepting the funds and withdrawing the case if the application is approved);
    • Automatically stay eviction cases and executions if a tenant or landlord applies for UniteCT;
    • Stay eviction cases and executions until the UniteCT application is fully processed and any payment is made;
    • Clarify that LLs must participate in or accept UniteCT, and that a refusal to do so is unlawful source of income discrimination and that failure to submit a complete UniteCT application prior to starting an eviction case is also in violation of the EO; 
    • Require landlords and UniteCT to notify the court when UniteCT funds have been issued to the landlord so that the court can automatically dismiss the case;
    • Missed rental payments or evictions during the pandemic or caused by the pandemic cannot be used as a basis to deny rental housing or reported to tenant screening companies, credit reporting agencies, or future landlords.
  • The CT Judicial Branch must automatically stay all executions and ejectments for the duration of the public health emergency, as it did through August of 2020.
  1. Tell Congress to pass an eviction moratorium. 
  • Contact your congressional representatives:
    • Senator Murphy, (860) 549-8463
    • Senator Blumenthal, 860.258.6940
    • Your representative:
      • Rep. Larson, 860.278.8888
      • Rep. Courtney, 860.886.0139
      • Rep. DeLauro, 203.562.3718
      • Rep. Himes, 866.453.0028
      • Rep. Hayes, 860.223.8412
  • Congress must immediately pass a moratorium on all evictions for the duration of the pandemic, regardless of the reason for eviction.
    • The moratorium must be automatic, and require no documentation or declaration from tenants
    • It must mandate that no new evictions may be filed, evictions in progress must be stayed, and executions must be stayed. 
  1. Ask municipal officials to take action to protect tenants from eviction.
  • Ask city councilors and the mayor to mandate that all landlords operating in the town/city participate in and accept UniteCT money, and to state that a refusal to do so is unlawful source of income discrimination and that failure to submit a complete UniteCT application prior to starting an eviction case is also in violation of the EO. 

Ask the local housing authority to stay all evictions and executions for the duration of the pandemic.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

July 2, 2021

On June 30, 2021, the Connecticut eviction moratorium expired. However, Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 12D which took effect on July 1. The order has the following provisions:

  • 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;
  • if you have applied for UniteCT and you have a case in court, then you should tell the Judge about your UniteCT application. If you have not yet applied for UniteCT you must do so to be covered by this part of these protections provided by the Governor’s recent executive order.

On June 24, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control extended its eviction moratorium until July 31, 2021.

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Since March 15, 2021, when UniteCT began accepting applications:

  • applications or 28.6% of the total fully submitted applications have been approved for payment of a rental and/or utility arrears. This represents $23 million in expenditures or about 6% of the total funding allocated to Connecticut;
  • people have entered homeless shelters. Only 25.3% of those exiting shelter went into permanent homes;

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 36% of Latinx renters, 41% of Black renters, and 16% of people of two or more races are not caught up on their rent compared to 8% of white renters.

In addition, 23% of Black homeowners and 27% of people of two or more races are not caught up on their mortgage payments compared to 3% of white homeowners.

Consequences of Eviction

The more than  130,000 tenants who currently owe rent as the result of the COVID-19 crisis are likely to suffer the following consequences when evicted:

  • With 2,560 people already living in shelters, many tenants who are evicted will double up with friends or family, or sleep in cars, parks, or other outdoor settings.
  • Recent studies have shown that neighborhoods with the highest eviction rates have the lowest levels of COVID-19 vaccinations. Evictions will result in spreading the virus and its newest variants throughout the State.
  • Since 2017, the Center has been evaluating the effect of eviction when people search for new housing. The testing reveals that an eviction is almost certain to lead to the denial of a new unit. More than 39% of landlords indicated they would not rent to someone with an eviction record while 61% said that if the tenant could prove the eviction was withdrawn or that the tenant was permitted to stay in the unit, they would overlook the eviction record.
  • . A study of mothers evicted during their pregnancies revealed that eviction harms infant health and development.

President Biden announces initiatives to support vulnerable tenants and homeowners:      

The Biden-Harris Administration announced a series of actions to help state and local governments prevent evictions and foreclosures and promote housing stability. The Administration is calling for an acceleration of the distribution of ERA funds to renters and landlords in addition to an all hands-on-deck effort by local governments, courts, community organizations, and the legal community to create alternatives to evictions. The strategies deployed include asking state and local courts to participate in eviction diversion efforts; using ARP money to prevent unnecessary evictions; accelerating and broadening state and local delivery of emergency rental assistance; ensure the 30-day eviction notice requirement for Federally-backed properties is enforced; make clear the Fair Housing Act must be followed; and leverage government channels to reach vulnerable tenants and landlords.

To prevent foreclosures, the Biden administration is extending the foreclosure moratorium for mortgages backed by HUD, the VA, USDA, and the FHFA until July 31, 2021. Once the moratoria end, HUD, VA, and USDA will take additional steps to prevent foreclosures on mortgages backed by those agencies until borrowers are reviewed for COVID-19 streamlined loss mitigation options that are affordable. The FHFA will continue to work with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure that borrowers are evaluated for home retention solutions prior to any referral to foreclosure. 

Eviction and foreclosure moratorium status:

Connecticut Eviction Moratorium expired June 30, 2021. However, Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 12D which took effect on July 1. Tenants: if you have applied for UniteCT and you have a case in court, then you should tell the Judge about your UniteCT application.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium has been extended to July 31, 2021. This protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payments because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here.

Current foreclosure moratoriums:

  • until August 31, 2021
  • until July 31, 2021
  • The CFPB final servicing rule will implement a foreclosure moratorium from August 31, 2021 until December 2021 that applies to most mortgages, not just federally-backed mortgages. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:

Tenants living in multifamily properties with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgage cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent through September 30, 2021. Additional tenant protections include not charging tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent and allowing tenants flexibility in repayment of back rent over time and not demanding a lump sum payment. Finally, landlords evicting for reasons other than nonpayment of rent must give a 30-day notice.

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.

UniteCT Updates

On May 7, 2021, the U.S. Treasury sent out new guidance on nine enhanced policies to directly aid renters, prevent evictions, and help tenants transition to secure housing. In response to the new guidance, DOH has announced that it will make the following changes to the UniteCT program:

  • Tenants will now be eligible to receive up to $15,000 in rental arrearage payments for any rent owed after March 13, 2020 regardless of the number of months owed;
  •   Landlords will not be required to write-off 15% of the rental arrearage;
  • If tenants are eligible for prospective rental payments through UniteCT, the tenant will not be required to contribute any rent for the first three months of prospective payments;
  •   UniteCT will use income proxies to determine eligibility. If an applicant lives in a low-income census block, the applicant will not be required to submit income verification. Instead, the applicant can sign a self-attestation that they have income at or below 80% of AMI and will not have to submit paystubs or tax returns;
  •   Applicants who receive benefits from Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), and the state supplement will be eligible for UniteCT without additional income verification;
  •   UniteCT will provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact doh-unitect@ct.gov immediately;
  • : DOH is holding meetings with landlords to inform them of the changes in the program and to encourage them to participate. Go to www.unitct@ct.gov to see the latest training or to sign up for the next available training.

Applying for UniteCT/advice for completing an application:

  • UniteCT’s emergency rental and utilities assistance is available for individuals with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who have experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications must be made on-line. A list of the documents which must be included with an application can be found here.  Visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT to apply or call 1-844-864-8328 to get a referral to a community agency who may be able to assist tenants and landlords in applying.
  • Tenants denied assistance from UniteCT will receive notice with instructions on how to appeal the denial. A tenant has 14 days from the date of denial to appeal by sending an email to unitectappeal@ct.gov stating the reason for the appeal.
  •   Tenants who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

The UniteCT mobile tech bus will be at the following locations for the week starting
July 6, 2021:

UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies.

Bridgeport, CT

When:        Tuesday, July 6, 10am – 3 pm

Location:   Park City Communities, P.T. Barnum Apartments, 96 Bird St. Bridgeport

Contact:    Mayra Ramirez, mramirez@bridgeporthousing.org, 203-337-8870

New Haven, CT

When:        Wednesday, July 7, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:   NeighborWorks New Horizons, 730 George Street, New Haven

Contact:    Zabrina Roman, Zabrina@nwnh.net, 203-676-5915

Bridgeport, CT

When:        Thursday, July 8, 10am – 3pm

Location:   Park City Communities, Green Homes, 629 Washington Ave. Bridgeport

Contact:    Greg Johnson, gjohnson@parkcitycommunities.org, 203-337-8886

Waterbury, CT

When:       Friday, July 9, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:  Martin Luther King Jr Park, 449 North Main St, Waterbury

Contact:    Emmanuel Cruz, ecruz@nhswaterbury.org, 203-558-4547

Addressing UniteCT Issues

Complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $400 million in federal rental assistance. The Center recommends the following changes to UniteCT to ensure stability and safety for Connecticut’s families: 

  • Treasury guidance states that tenants who do not have adequate documentation of the amount of the rental obligation or the terms of their rental agreement may submit a written attestation. 
  • Treasury guidance states that if an applicant cannot provide written documentation of income, an attestation form can be used.
  •  
  •  The landlord and tenant FAQs on the UniteCT website cannot be translated into Spanish.
  •  In addition, the UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.
  • providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application;

Help for tenants

Visit the Center’s website for fact sheets on the CDC eviction bans and available rental assistance programs. FAQs about evictions, rental assistance, and housing discrimination during the Covid-19 pandemic are also available.

Help for homeowners

Fannie and Freddie expand use of interest rate reductions:  On June 30, 2021, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that they would expand their interest rate reduction programs. Flex Modification terms will be adjusted for COVID-19 hardships making interest rate reduction possible for eligible borrowers, regardless of the borrower’s loan-to-value ratio.

FHFA closes gap between Fannie and Freddie moratorium and CFPB servicing moratorium: On June 29, 2021, FHFA announced it would extend its moratorium to protect borrowers until CFPB moratorium starts. The CFPB final rule prohibits servicers from making a first notice or filing for foreclosure in most cases covered by the rule before December 31, 2021. Servicers will still be able to make a notice or filing for foreclosure on abandoned properties and those that had a foreclosure referral prior to March 2020, along with certain other exceptions. CFPB’s final rule will take effect August 31, 2021.

CFPB issues rules to facilitate transition as federal protections expire: On June 28, 2021, the CFPB issued rules to transition as federal foreclosure protections expire. The rules take effect on August 31, 2021 and ends on December 31, 2021. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:

This protection applies to many, but not all, mortgages.

Connecticut is using federal Homeownership Assistance Funds to assist homeowners delinquent on payments: The American Recovery Plan included funding for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Connecticut will receive approximately $123 million. DOH is working with CHFA to pilot a program that will provide up to $20,000 in grants to homeowners whose income is at or below 80% of AMI and who are socially or economically disadvantaged. A pilot program is expected to begin in July 2021. Details will be posted on the DOH and CHFA websites.

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Additional resources

Payments to help with internet access:  The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

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

Outreach:  To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

June 18, 2021

“If society wants us to keep caring for others, it’s going to have to show a little more care for us.”— author Kate Washington. While these words were said in 2015 regarding women forced to provide health care to their families while also holding down a job and raising children, it is true now more than ever. During the pandemic, working women bore the brunt of the caretaking, childrearing, and remote learning supervision while poor women of color struggled to find the resources to pay for food, rent, clothing, internet access, and transportation.

That society also needs to provide more care for caretakers applies to the legions of people who have been addressing the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it is teachers trying to teach remotely, social service workers helping meet basic needs, or lawyers representing low-income people whose lives have been upended by the pandemic, we are exhausted. The stress of telling people who are desperate “no there is nothing we can do” has worn us down and feels especially insane when there is over $400 million is available to make landlords whole. However, to date the State has been able to distribute less than 3.5% of the funds. There is no reason for a single family to face the disruption and harm resulting from losing their home to eviction and no reason for society to incur the costs associated with evictions. Yet, we are forced to continue to tell our clients that there is often no help available. That there is no way to make the landlord accept money from UniteCT and to stop an eviction. That there is often nothing we can do.

Our feelings are often referred to as burnout. But burnout does not adequately convey what many of us are going through. You can be burned out on your workout routine and it will not affect your family. Feeling helpless and stressed because you cannot address the real and urgent needs of people who are seeking your help not only makes people feel ineffective at work but also affects the rest of their lives. Too many people who have been stalwart advocates and allies are emotionally exhausted and falling by the wayside even as others see hope.

           Fortunately, we do not have to wait for society or the government to care for the caretakers. Social service agencies and the advocates who work with them can take care of their staff by providing more benefits: more time off, more flexible work hours, fewer mandatory meetings, reducing staff email, and even limiting the number of people served. A colleague recently told me he decided not to apply for new funding because his staff could not handle new tasks without causing additional stress and overwork. He chose to treat his program’s biggest financial investment, his staff, the way he treats other financial investments. Just as he would not overwork a printer or copy machine because it will breakdown, he is not overworking staff.

After 15 months of a 300% increase in the need for our services, the successful passage of a Right to Council in eviction cases, and the recognition that burnout puts our most valuable investment at risk, we are taking some time for rest. Staff will continue to work remotely which will give them more flexible hours. Please keep this in mind if there is a delayed response to your email, call, or request for assistance.  Please provide care for the caretakers who have stood beside us and worked to ameliorate the effects of the pandemic and give them permission to take care of themselves.

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Click on the links below for information about UniteCT and help for homeowners and tenants.

Additional resources

Applying for UniteCT

Help for homeowners

Help for tenants

Moratorium status

Tech bus schedule (scroll to the bottom of the page)

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

June 4, 2021

On June 30, the CDC moratorium on some evictions is scheduled to end as is the state eviction moratorium currently in place in Connecticut. As evidenced by the eviction statistics below, people of color have the highest risk of suffering catastrophic consequences once the moratoria end. Most places that lifted their local and state moratoriums have seen a surge of evictions. Indiana had a 658% increase in new evictions filed the week after it lifted its moratorium. Delaware had a 1806% increase in its first quarter without a moratorium. A similar increase would see Connecticut go from 670 monthly filings to between 4,408 and 12,093 monthly filings.

The State’s UniteCT program has done little to prevent the pending onslaught of evictions having paid out $7 million to a little more than 1,000 Connecticut households. It is estimated that at least 75,000 households will need assistance in paying the rent. The Connecticut legislature has the power to stop Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens from losing their homes by 1) extending the eviction moratorium by law; or 2) requiring landlords and tenants to apply for UniteCT before any action is taken to evict a tenant. We urge the legislature to act before the session ends on June 7. Please join us as we work to prevent mass evictions and homelessness.

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In today’s update:

Additional resources

Applying for UniteCT

Changes to UniteCT

Eviction/mortgage delinquency statistics

Fixing UniteCT

Help for homeowners

Help for tenants

Moratorium status

Mortgage foreclosure updates

Problems with UniteCT

Right to counsel

Tech bus schedule

Since March 15, 2021, when UniteCT began accepting applications:

  • Landlords have filed 1,919 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 764 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.

Mortgage delinquencies continue to rise: Information gathered by CoreLogic on mortgage delinquencies reveals that Connecticut currently ranks 9th in the country for mortgages that are 90 days or more past due.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 37% of Latinx renters and 57% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 19% of white renters.

In addition, 28% of Latinx homeowners, and 24% of Black homeowners have little or no confidence in their ability to pay their mortgage next month compared to 8% of white homeowners.

Changes to UniteCT

The US Treasury Department published new guidelines to ensure tenants receive help with rent arrearages quickly: On May 7, 2021, the U.S. Treasury sent out new guidance on nine enhanced policies to directly aid renters, prevent evictions, and help tenants transition to secure housing. In response to the new guidance, DOH has announced that it will make the following changes to the UniteCT program:

  • Eliminating the 6-month look back period. Tenants will now be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in rental arrearage payments for any rent owed after March 13, 2020;
  • Landlords will be eligible for payments of up to $10,000 for rental arrearages without any requirement that the landlord write-off 15% of the rental arrearage;
  • If tenants are eligible for prospective rental payments through UniteCT, the tenant will not be required to contribute any rent for the first three months of prospective payments;
  • UniteCT will use income proxies to determine eligibility. If an applicant lives in a low-income census block, the applicant will not be required to submit income verification. Instead, the applicant can sign a self-attestation that they have income at or below 80% of AMI and will not have to submit paystubs or tax returns;
  • Applicants who receive benefits from Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), and the state supplement will be eligible for UniteCT without additional income verification;
  • The income proxy verification is not yet in place;
  • UniteCT will provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact doh-unitect@ct.gov immediately;
  • UniteCT, legal services attorneys, and the Judicial Branch are meeting to expedite a process for tenants with summary process cases in court to get emergency rental assistance.

Applying for UniteCT/advice for completing an application:

UniteCT’s emergency rental and utilities assistance is available for individuals with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who have experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications must be made on-line. A list of the documents which must be included with an application can be found here.  Visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT to apply or call 1-844-864-8328 to get a referral to a community agency who may be able to assist tenants and landlords in applying.

Tenants denied assistance from UniteCT will receive notice with instructions on how to appeal the denial. A tenant has 14 days from the date of denial to appeal by sending an email to unitectappeal@ct.gov stating the reason for the appeal.

All landlords and tenants should apply for UniteCT to ensure that they receive the assistance they need to stay in their homes and have all eligible rental arrearages paid.

DOH has stated that it will meet with landlords to convince them to accept UniteCT rental payments even if the landlord states they will not participate in the program. Email DOH at doh-unitect@ct.gov if your landlord refuses to participate in the program. 

Tenants who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

Landlords who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

DOH hopes to be able to contact tenants with missing pieces of their application after they have hired additional staff. 

The UniteCT mobile tech bus will be at the following locations for the week starting
June 5, 2021:

UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies.

Milford, CT

When:        Saturday, June 5, 10am – 3pm

Location:   Beth-El Center, 90 New Haven Avenue, Milford, CT 

Contact:    Kelly Fitzgerald, kfitzgerald@uwgnh.org

Norwalk, CT

When:        Monday, June 7, 10am – 3pm

Location:   Norwalk Public Library, 10 Washington Street, Norwalk, CT

Contact:    Lauren Franciamore, laurenfranciamore@p2phelps.org 

Norwalk, CT

When:        Tuesday, June 8, 10am – 3pm

Location:   Norwalk Public Library, 10 Washington Street, Norwalk, CT

Contact:    Maria Escalera, MEscalera@norwalkct.org

Norwalk, CT

When:       Wednesday , June 9, 10am – 3pm

Location:  149 Water St, Norwalk, CT

Contact:    Angel Battle, abattle@alliancect.org

Bridgeport, CT

When:       Thursday, June 10, 10am – 3pm

Location:  East End Food Pantry, 1290 Stratford Ave, Bridgeport CT

Contact:    Keith Williams, 203-260-6731, dorie63@aol.com

Bridgeport, CT

When:       Friday, June 11, 10am – 3pm

Location:  New Hope Baptist church, 1100 Park Ave, Bridgeport, CT

Contact:    Olga De Aza, odeaza@alliancect.org

Waterbury, CT

When:       Saturday, June 12, 10am – 3pm

Location:  New Opportunities, 232 North Elm Street Waterbury, CT

Contact:    Olga De Aza, odeaza@alliancect.org

At a UniteCT bus event on May26, participants report the following:

Under UniteCT, tenants must have written rental agreements to be eligible. If there is no written rental agreement, the landlord and the tenant must sit down together and write one. The rental agreement must have a holdover clause in it meaning that it has to say that the tenant has the right to stay after the agreement expires. Treasury guidance states that tenants who do not have adequate documentation of the amount of the rental obligation or the terms of their rental agreement may submit a written attestation. 

People who are paid in cash may have difficulty qualifying for UniteCT if they do not live in a low-income census tract and if their employer does not wish to provide the documentation. Treasury guidance states that if an applicant cannot provide written documentation of income, an attestation form can be used.

Eviction filings are increasing and move outs that can be avoided are still happening because rental assistance is not getting distributed quickly or broadly. Tenants are in danger of losing their homes to eviction while they await a decision on their UniteCT applications. 

Tenants cannot find out what information is missing from their application. 

Tenants cannot edit incorrect contact information for their landlord making it impossible for some landlords to know about UniteCT and their tenant’s application.

The UniteCT website contains a button to translate all information into Spanish when the site is accessed on a computer, but not when accessed by phone or tablet.  The landlord and tenant FAQs on the UniteCT website cannot be translated into Spanish.

The UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments. In addition, the UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

The online application’s “Help Portal” does not translate the instructions into any language other than English. 

Fixing UniteCT:

Complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $400 million in federal rental assistance.

The Center recommends the following changes to UniteCT to ensure stability and safety for Connecticut’s families: 

  1. Provide assistance directly to tenants whose landlords refuse to participate in UniteCT as required by the Treasury guidance;
  2. Prohibit evictions and executions for any tenant who has a pending or approved UniteCT application; 
  3. Conduct adequate tenant and landlord outreach;
  4. Provide more intake support for tenants and landlords so that they can navigate the complex UniteCT system;
  5. Ensure that tenants are approved, and appeals granted using equity-based strategies that are not based on whether the tenants “deserve” to be helped:
  6. Include data on all information collected in the UniteCT application down to the census tract level so that everyone will know if the program is reaching the tenants who are most in need;
  7. Remove the requirement that applicants upload a copy of a government identification. Treasury guidelines do not require that applicants have government identification to apply and qualify; 
  8. Require landlords to use an attestation form or check off list that states the monthly rental amount, amount owed, and a statement that the tenant has the right to stay in the unit as opposed to a written rental agreement; 
  9. Fix the technical problems raised above including providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application;
  10. Notify tenants with disabilities that they have a right to reasonable accommodations when trying to fill out and complete an application.

Eviction and foreclosure moratorium status:

Governor Lamont extended the Connecticut Eviction Moratorium through June 30, 2021. This means that landlords cannot start most new eviction cases untilJuly 1, 2021with four major exceptions. Review our fact sheet on the exceptions to the moratorium and make sure to respond to any eviction papers you receive. More information about the eviction process is available here.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction ban will be in place through June 30, 2021. This protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payments because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here.

FHFA extends multifamily forbearance through September 30, 2021:  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to multifamily property owners through June 30, 2021. In addition, tenants living in multifamily properties with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgage cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent through September 30, 2021. Additional tenant protections include not charging tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent and allowing tenants flexibility in repayment of back rent over time and not demanding a lump sum payment. Finally, landlords evicting for reasons other than nonpayment of rent must give a 30-day notice.

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.

Help for tenants

Right to counsel passes the Senate:  On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, the Connecticut Senate passed legislation which gives tenants whose income is at or below 80% of State Median Income a right to an attorney during an eviction. On Thursday, May 27, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed the revised bill. The law is now on Governor Lamont’s desk for signing.

Visit the Center’s website for fact sheets on the Connecticut and CDC eviction bans and available rental assistance programs. FAQs about evictions, rental assistance, and housing discrimination during the Covid-19 pandemic are also available.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

The CFPB’s research brief, “Characteristics of Mortgage Borrowers During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” shows the impact of the COVID-19 economic crisis on homeowners of color:

  • Loans in forbearance or delinquent are disproportionately likely to have limited equity, leaving those borrowers close to underwater and unable to easily sell their property. For example, half of all loans in forbearance have a loan-to-value (LTV) greater than 60%, compared to only 34% of current loans.  Borrowers who are behind on their payments but not in forbearance are more than five times as likely to have an LTV greater than 95% than borrowers who are current on their payments.
  • Forbearance and delinquency are significantly more common in communities of color (defined as majority minority census tracts) and lower-income communities (defined by census tract income quartiles).

For older mortgage news and data, please visit our website.

Help for homeowners

Connecticut is using federal Homeownership Assistance Funds to assist homeowners delinquent on payments: The American Recovery Plan included funding for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Connecticut will receive approximately $123 million. DOH is working with CHFA to pilot a program that will provide up to $20,000 in grants to homeowners whose income is at or below 80% of AMI and who are socially or economically disadvantaged. A pilot program is expected to begin in June 2021. Details will be posted on the DOH and CHFA websites.

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Additional resources

Payments to help with internet access:  The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

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

Outreach:  To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

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.

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