ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

A series of articles published by CT Mirror examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on single mothers. As the pressure of supporting their families, caring for children, and staying healthy has increased, single mothers have had little help. Even when supports are provided by federal, state, or local governments, applying and qualifying for those benefits is difficult and filled with seemingly impossible requirements. Women are belittled for failing to apply for food stamps, evicted for failing to apply for rental assistance, and told they are endangering their families’ health by working in the service industry. The single mothers who have sacrificed so much during the last 14 months deserve our support free of judgment. The Center’s work ensures that single mothers and families with children have access to the housing of their choice free from discrimination. Please join us.

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In today’s update:

Additional_resources

Applying_for_UniteCT

Eviction_statistics

Fixing_UniteCT

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratorium_status

Problems_with_UniteCT

Right_to_counsel

Tech_bus_schedule

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

  • Landlords have filed 1,322 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 496 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.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 38% of Latinx renters and 24% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 13% of white renters.

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.

The Department of Housing (DOH) has stated tenants who have housing subsidies should continue to apply and seek assistance from UniteCT.  On Tuesday, May 4, DOH announced that “an eligible household that occupies a federally subsidized residential unit may receive UniteCT assistance, provided that UniteCT 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 financial 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.” The Center understands this to mean that everyone is eligible to apply for UniteCT. However, tenants who have federal or state subsidies may not qualify for assistance. If a tenant is told they do not qualify for assistance, they will be given the right to appeal this decision.

  • 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 in Eastern, CT next week:

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.

TECH BUS SCHEDULE, WEEK OF MAY 10, 2021

Norwich, CT

When: Mon, May 10, 10am – 3pm

Location: St. Mary’s Church, 70 Central Ave, Norwich, CT 06360
Contact: Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org

Uncasville

When:  Tues, May 11, 10am – 12pm

Location: Montville Senior Center, 12 Maple Ave, Uncasville, CT 06382

Contact: Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org

Niantic

When:  Tues, May 11, 1pm – 3pm

Location: East Lyme Senior Center, 37 Society Rd. Niantic 06357

Contact: Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org

New London

When: Wed, May 12, 10am – 3pm

Location:  Jennings Elementary School, 50 Mercer St, New London, CT 06320

Contact:  Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org

Problems encountered by UniteCT applicants:

  • UniteCT guidelines and FAQs state that applicants are ineligible if the person applying is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance such as a housing choice voucher or is living in public housing. The Center understands this to mean that everyone is eligible to apply for UniteCT. However, tenants who have federal or state subsidies may not qualify for assistance. If a tenant is told they do not qualify for assistance, they will be given the right to appeal this decision.
  • 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 public and subsidized housing are people of color. Making assistance available only through a subjective appeals process increases the likelihood of arbitrary and inconsistent decisions that may lead to fair housing violations. 
  • Because many housing authorities and subsidized housing providers will not accept tenants previously evicted from subsidized housing, tenants evicted from subsidized units because of rental arrears will lose their housing and their subsidies and be disqualified from future housing subsidies.
  • 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. 
  • UniteCt requires that an applicant must either upload a copy of the 2020 tax returns for all members of a household over 18 or two months of income verification for all household members over 18. Treasury guidance does not require income verification equal to two months.
  • The attestation form on the UniteCT website cannot be used in place of paystubs or other proof of employment. This prevents people who are paid in cash from qualifying for UniteCT 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. 
  • It has been reported to the Center that some large housing providers have stated that they will not participate in Unite CT and that certain landlord attorneys are advising their clients not to participate. DOH acknowledges that some landlords are refusing to participate because they believe their tenants have not made an effort to pay rent.
  • The tenant cannot find out what information is missing from their application. 
  • Outreach materials on the English-language UniteCT website are currently available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Kreyol, and Polish. 
  • 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.
  • Tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application because of lack of reliable internet access. 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 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:

The Pandemic has inflicted serious and lasting trauma on Connecticut’s most vulnerable populations – particularly working-class renters. Families of color are disproportionately represented among those most severely impacted and most in need of housing stability and assistance. The State must recognize the impact of this trauma by making the vital rental assistance through UniteCT as accessible as possible.

Unfortunately, complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $200 million in federal rental assistance.

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

  1. Prioritize tenants for assistance if they have a summary process case filed in court;
  2. Conduct adequate tenant and landlord outreach;
  3. Provide more intake support for tenants and landlords so that they can navigate the complex UniteCT system;
  4. Ensure that tenants are approved and appeals granted using equity-based strategies that is not based on whether the tenants “deserve” to be helped:
  5. Publish data every week so that everyone can determine if the program is reaching Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents including but not limited to the demographics of who is applying and who has been approved, the geographic location of tenants and landlords;
  6. Permit tenants living in public and subsidized housing not only to apply but to qualify for assistance without going through the appeals process;
  7. The program encourages tenants to come to agreement on arrears not covered by UniteCT but also requires landlords to forgive a percentage of arrears; to make the program less confusing, remove the requirement that landlords forgive arrears and instead require those arrears to be treated as consumer debt; 
  8. Allow tenants to use the attestation form to certify their income if they receive cash income or cannot get documentation from an employer; 
  9. Remove the requirement that applicants upload a copy of any i.d. Treasury guidelines do not require that applicants have i.d. to apply and qualify.; 
  10. Remove the requirement that the tenant have a written rental agreement or work with a landlord to create a rental agreement. Instead, 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; 
  11. Automatically qualify tenants receiving TANF, General Assistance, SNAP and/or living in public or subsidized housing to apply without any additional documentation regarding income. All income information can be obtained by DOH from DSS or the public or subsidized housing provider; 
  12. Prohibit evictions and executions for any tenant who has a pending or approved UniteCT application; 
  13. Fix the technical problems raised above including providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application;
  14. 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:

Connecticut’s temporary ban on evictions will be in place through May 20, 2021. This means that your landlord cannot start a new eviction case against you until May 21, 2021with some important exceptions. Review our fact sheet on the exceptions and make sure to respond to any eviction papers you receive. More information about the eviction process is available here.

Judge in D.C. strikes down CDC moratorium, effect in Connecticut uncertain: On Wednesday, May 6, a federal court judge from the District of Columbia struck down the nationwide moratoriums on evictions. However, that ruling has been put on hold as the result of an appeal filed by the Department of Justice. 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.

Fannie and Freddie extend time to apply for a forbearance to June 30, 2021:  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to qualifying multifamily property owners through June 30, 2021, subject to the continued tenant protections FHFA has imposed during the pandemic.

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.

Right to Counsel

The Connecticut House of Representatives is likely to call H.B. 6531 An Act Concerning a Right to Counsel in Eviction Action for a vote next week. There is still time to call your legislators to help encourage the passage of this important legislation. Here is script you can use for your phone calls and emails to your State Representatives, State Senators, and general assembly leadership.

Help for tenants

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 Center will continue to publish any recent news on foreclosure activity in Connecticut. For news and data previously published, please visit our website.

Help for homeowners

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

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

Call Your Legislators, Support HB6531: a Right to Counsel for Evictions


Last night, more than 50 of us came together to continue our organizing push for a Right to Counsel for evictions. With Governor Lamont’s support for RTC in his American Rescue Plan Act budget, we are so close to passing RTC and bringing real legal protections to tenants facing eviction. We know we will cross the finish line with all of our collective action! What can you do? Use this script and contact info sheet to call and email your legislators. Push them to pass H.B. 6531 and fully fund Right to Counsel: $14M/year for three years.

Need more resources? Use this linktree to find our RTC one-pager, links to articles and op-eds about RTC, and more, Together, let’s bring Right to Counsel to Connecticut!

Right to Counsel: Big Victory + Final Push!

We are so close to winning a Right to Counsel for evictions! This past Monday, Gov. Lamont announced that he is devoting $10 million dollars each of the next two years for a Right to Counsel program in his plan for the federal relief funds Connecticut is receiving through the American Rescue Plan Act. This could never have happened without all of the organizing, mobilizing, and advocacy we have done as a coalition. Let’s use this energy to finish strong and make sure we win this groundbreaking legislation for housing justice!

Here’s our plan for the next two crucial weeks. We need everyone to call & write our local state representatives and senators, the leadership of the state legislature, and the co-chairs of the Appropriations Committee with three basic demands:

  • Vote for HB 6531 – A Right to Counsel for Evictions.
  • Call HB 6531 to the floor for a vote.
  • Fully fund Right to Counsel at $14 million per year for 3 years.

Please join us on Tuesday, May 4 at 6pm for a virtual teach-in and phone bank to launch this big, final push to win a Right to Counsel. It’s open to everyone, so we ask you to please share with your networks and bring everyone you can with you. It always feels incredibly empowering to gather together, even if just virtually, with a concrete plan to win the change we know is necessary for a more just world. The fact we have gotten this far shows how powerful we are when we organize. When we fight we win!!

While the most important thing is our event next Tuesday, we have been busy on several fronts, so please see these amazing updates:

RSVP HERE https://bit.ly/2SmZH7o

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Gov. Lamont’s budget for the $2.6 billion in federal fiscal recovery funds coming to the state includes $20 million for legal representation for tenants facing eviction, spread over two years. This money would help start the statewide right to counsel for tenants program proposed in H.B. 6531 that the Center and more than 40 community groups have supported. Op-eds published this week explain why Connecticut should adopt right to counsel as a public health intervention, following a letter from more than 125 healthcare providers and researchers urging federal funding for tenant representation, and why right to counsel is an LGBTQ issue. Support the Center’s work during this critical effort.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

In today’s update:

Additional_resources

Applying_for_UniteCT

Eviction_statistics

Fixing_UniteCT

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratoriums_extended

Problems_with_UniteCT

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

  • Landlords have filed 1,177 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 419 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.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 26% of Latinx renters and 17% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 10% of white renters.

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.

The Department of Housing (DOH) has stated tenants who have housing subsidies should continue to apply and seek assistance through the appeal process.

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. 

Problems encountered by UniteCT applicants:

UniteCT guidelines state that applicants are ineligible if the person applying is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance such as a housing choice voucher or is living in public housing. In Connecticut, this means that tenants who were unable to pay their portion of the rent due to the COVID-19 economic shut down do not qualify. Treasury Department guidance states that tenants who are not receiving or do not anticipate receiving another source of public or private subsidy for the rental arrearage are eligible to receive emergency rental assistance.

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 public and subsidized housing are people of color. Making assistance available only through a subjective appeals process increases the likelihood of arbitrary and inconsistent decisions that may lead to fair housing violations. 

Because many housing authorities and subsidized housing providers will not accept tenants previously evicted from subsidized housing, tenants evicted from subsidized units because of rental arrears will lose their housing and their subsidies and be disqualified from future housing subsidies. 

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. 

The attestation form on the UniteCT website cannot be used in place of paystubs or other proof of employment. This prevents people who are paid in cash from qualifying for UniteCT 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.  

It has been reported to the Center that some large housing providers have stated that they will not participate in Unite CT and that certain landlord attorneys are advising their clients not to participate. DOH acknowledges that some landlords are refusing to participate because they believe their tenants have not made an effort to pay rent.

Tenants are in danger of losing their homes to eviction while they await a decision on their UniteCT applications. 

The tenant cannot find out what information is missing from their application. 

Outreach materials on the English-language UniteCT website are currently only available in English, Portuguese, Kreyol, and Polish. There are no outreach materials in Spanish.

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.  

Tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application because of lack of reliable internet access. 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 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:

The Pandemic has inflicted serious and lasting trauma on Connecticut’s most vulnerable populations – particularly working-class renters. Families of color are disproportionately represented among those most severely impacted and most in need of housing stability and assistance. The State must recognize the impact of this trauma by making the vital rental assistance through UniteCT as accessible as possible. 

Unfortunately, complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $200 million in federal rental assistance.

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

  1. The program encourages tenants to come to agreement on arrears not covered by UniteCT but also requires landlords to forgive a percentage of arrears; to make the program less confusing, remove the requirement that landlords forgive arrears and instead require those arrears to be treated as consumer debt; 
  2. Allow tenants to use the attestation form to certify their income if they receive cash income or cannot get documentation from an employer; 
  3. Remove the requirement that applicants upload a copy of any i.d. Treasury guidelines do not require that applicants have i.d. to apply and qualify.; 
  4. Remove the requirement that the tenant have a written rental agreement or work with a landlord to create a rental agreement. Instead, 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; 
  5. Permit tenants living in public and subsidized housing to apply and receive assistance for arrears; 
  6. Automatically qualify tenants receiving TANF, General Assistance, SNAP and/or living in public or subsidized housing to apply without any additional documentation regarding income. All income information can be obtained by DOH from DSS or the public or subsidized housing provider; 
  7. Prohibit evictions and executions for any tenant who has a pending or approved UniteCT application; 
  8. Fix the technical problems raised above including providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

Eviction and foreclosure moratoriums extended:

Connecticut’s temporary ban on evictions will be in place through May 20, 2021. This means that your landlord cannot start a new eviction case against you until May 21, 2021with some important exceptions. Review our fact sheet on the exceptions 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, but 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.

Fannie and Freddie extend time to apply for a forbearance to June 30, 2021:  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to qualifying multifamily property owners through June 30, 2021, subject to the continued tenant protections FHFA has imposed during the pandemic.

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

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 Center will continue to publish any recent news on foreclosure activity in Connecticut. For news and data previously published, please visit our website.

Help for homeowners

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

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

On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, nearly a year after the murder of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder, and second-degree manslaughter. We echo the sentiments of Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison when he said, “I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration,” Ellison said. “But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice, and now the cause of justice is in your hands.” Please support the Center as we continue to fight on towards justice for black and brown people in the state of Connecticut.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

In today’s update:

Additional_Resources

Apply_for_UniteCT

Call_to_Action_Right_to_Counsel

Eviction_statistics

Fixing_UniteCT

Foreclosure_news

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratoriums_extended

Problems_with_UniteCT

Resources

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

  • Landlords have filed 998 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 369 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.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 26% of Latinx renters and 17% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 10% of white renters.

Applying for UniteCT:

  • 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.

Problems encountered by UniteCT applicants:

As of April 12, 2021,  UniteCT guidelines deem applications ineligible if the person applying is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance such as a housing choice voucher or is living in public housing. Despite this, Department of Housing (DOH) has stated tenants who have housing subsidies should continue to apply and seek assistance through an appeal process. There are currently no details on how or where to appeal a decision made by UniteCT.   

These changes prompted The Bridgeport Housing Authority (aka Park City Communities) to cancel the UniteCT mobile bus on April 14, April 21, and April 28 at their properties. As a result, tenants living in and near housing authority properties will not have the opportunity to use this resource.  

Evictions that can be avoided are still happening because rental assistance is not getting distributed quickly or broadly.  

It has been reported to the Center that some large housing providers have stated that they will not participate in Unite CT and that certain landlord attorneys are advising their clients not to participate.  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 are not receiving a confirmation email once an application is submitted if the application has missing documents or other information. If the tenant does not receive the confirmation, they should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov to ensure the application was submitted. 

Landlords are not receiving a confirmation email once a tenant applies. Landlords should email doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328 to determine why the landlord has not received additional information. 

Tenants are in danger of losing their homes to eviction while they await a decision on their UniteCT applications. 

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. If a tenant is unable to get the landlord to write a rental agreement, email doh-unitect@ct.gov

The attestation form on the UniteCT website cannot be used in place of paystubs or other proof of employment.  

The tenant cannot find out what information is missing from their application. DOH hopes to be able to contact tenants with missing pieces of their application after they have hired additional staff. 

Outreach materials on the English-language UniteCT website are currently only available in English, Portuguese, Kreyol, and Polish.  

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.  

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 public and subsidized housing are people of color. Making assistance available only through a subjective appeals process increases the likelihood of arbitrary and inconsistent decisions that may lead to fair housing violations. 

Because many housing authorities and subsidized housing providers will not accept tenants previously evicted from subsidized housing, tenants evicted from subsidized units because of rental arrears will lose their housing and their subsidies and be disqualified from future housing subsidies. 

Tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application because of lack of reliable internet access.  

The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments. 

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

Fixing UniteCT:

The Pandemic has inflicted serious and lasting trauma on Connecticut’s most vulnerable populations – particularly working-class renters. Families of color are disproportionately represented among those most severely impacted and most in need of housing stability and assistance. The State must recognize the impact of this trauma by making the vital rental assistance through UniteCT as accessible as possible. 

Unfortunately, complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $200 million in federal rental assistance.

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

Right to Counsel Call to Action: We are asking all our supporters to call, email, and tweet at Governor Lamont TODAY. Ask him to support and fund a Right to Counsel for tenants in eviction cases with American Rescue Plan Act funds. Call: (800) 406-1527; Email: Governor.Lamont@ct.gov Tweet: @GovNedLamont. Your support will add to the over 100 healthcare providers, public health researchers, and other healthcare professionals who, on Wednesday, submitted a letter to Governor Lamont asking him to fund a Right to Counsel. For more information, read the Center’s blog post.

Eviction and foreclosure moratoriums extended:

Connecticut’s temporary ban on evictions will be in place through May 20, 2021. This means that your landlord cannot start a new eviction case against you untilMay 21, 2021with some important exceptionssee our website for details.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has placed a nationwide ban on evictions from September 4, 2020 through June 30, 2021.BUT this protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payment 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.  see our website for details.

Visit our website for English and Spanish fact sheets on both the Connecticut and CDC eviction moratoriums.

Fannie and Freddie extend time to apply for a forbearance to June 30, 2021:  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to qualifying multifamily property owners through June 30, 2021, subject to the continued tenant protections FHFA has imposed during the pandemic.

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.

Help for tenants

The Center’s website has detailed fact sheets for tenants on several issues that impact tenancy and to provide guidance on legal protections available to tenants.

Evictions, Lockouts, & Leases

Rental Assistance

Utilities

Protections against Discrimination

Additional general guidance is available on:

             Applying a Portion of Your Security Deposit to Rent: Under Executive Order 10A;

How to tell your landlord about the CDC moratorium;

Filing a complaint to investigate unlawful evictions.

Paying Rent: Tenants are still required to pay rent. If you cannot pay your full rent, you should still pay as much of the rent as possible on time and keep any records of your payments.

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.

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.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

The Center will continue to publish any recent news on foreclosure activity in Connecticut. For news and data previously published, please visit our website.

Help for homeowners

For detailed explanation on how to receive assistance with your tenancy please visit our website.

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 COVID-19 resources

There are up to date additional resources on COVID-19 recovery efforts 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.

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 Voters Support a Right to Counsel for Tenants in Eviction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 19, 2021

Contacts: CT Fair Housing Center: Sarah White, (860) 263-0726, swhite@ctfairhousing.org

                Central CT DSA: Luke Melonakos-Harrison (760) 532-4808, lukemeloh@gmail.com

Connecticut Voters Support a Right to Counsel for Tenants in Eviction

Federal Relief Money Can Fund Connecticut’s Right to Counsel Program

New polling in the Appeal shows that 2/3 of Connecticut voters support a statewide right to counsel program for tenants, a proven eviction prevention measure that Connecticut can fund for the next three and a half years using federal relief funding.

Data for Progress and The Lab found that “Sixty-seven percent of Connecticut voters—including 81 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents, and 51 percent of Republicans—would back the creation of a state program that provides lawyers to tenants facing eviction, with support cutting across age, gender, education, and racial demographic categories.” Polling was conducted of more than 700 likely Connecticut voters between April 9 and April 14.

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center, along with more than 40 other community organizations, has backed H.B. 6531, legislation that would guarantee legal representation for tenants facing eviction. Eight cities have created right to counsel programs for tenants, and two other states are on the verge of creating statewide programs, as the nation—and Connecticut—face an unprecedent surge in evictions as a result of the pandemic. Jurisdictions that create right to counsel programs see reductions in evictions and forced displacement of tenants.

“Tenants in Connecticut who are represented by an attorney are significantly more likely to keep their homes and avoid homelessness compared to those without legal representation,” according to Salmun Kazerounian, a staff attorney at the Center, who has analyzed past eviction data. Fewer than 7% of tenants have legal representation compared to 80% of landlords.

Carrie, a tenant who went through the eviction process without a lawyer, supports a right to counsel: “Without legal representation, I felt like no one was there to help me. If I did have a lawyer, I would have gotten better results and a better outcome. At the end of the day, the landlord would have had more respect for me.”

The Center’s tenant organizer, Shaznene Hussain, speaks to many tenants who are “scrambling to navigate a complicated legal process alone, under threat of losing their home in a matter of a few days, while their landlords are represented by attorneys who are expert at navigating the process. Tenants feel intimidated and unsure of how to advocate for themselves to the full extent the law allows.”

“Legal representation prevents the collateral consequences of evictions including its effect on jobs, children’s education, families’ physical and mental health, and families’ future access to decent housing. Funding legal representation  saves the state money in the downstream costs of eviction and homelessness, savings 2 to 12 times greater than the investment,” says eviction prevention attorney Melissa Marichal.

Connecticut will receive than $2.6 billion in federal relief funding, which can be used to fund who H.B. 6531’s statewide right to counsel program through the end of 2024. Over time, a right to counsel will pay for itself, bring down our cities’ high eviction rates, and changing a system that causes poverty and contributes to racial segregation.    

“The justice and urgency of the Right to Counsel bill is self-evident for the tenants we work with, for the justice-seeking organizations in our coalition, and for the more than a thousand people who have already signed our petition,” says Luke Melonakos-Harrison, an organizer with right to counsel coalition partner Central CT DSA. “Evictions–especially when enforced against tenants lacking fair legal representation in court–only entrench the racial segregation and extreme economic inequality that characterize so many of Connecticut’s communities. Although tenants are vastly underrepresented in our state government, we are making ourselves heard through this campaign.”

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

In celebration of Fair Housing Month, the Center’s education and outreach coordinator, Rashida Rattray, brought to life a presentation to honor the contributions of women of color in the fair housing and civil rights movements. Too often these stories are not told in our history books. Ms. Rattray explains “my pride in being a Black woman is the center of who I am, and I am always trying to highlight that in my work. I want women of color to be able to embrace their Blackness that is too often tokenized and rarely praised. The motivation for me to lift up these stories, and gather women of color, is because in my own upbringing we never see this type of work.” The Center’s Unsung Heroines webpage also explores the lives of women of color who made a difference in the past, highlights the contributions of women of color today, and we hope empowers the women color who will shape our future.

The Center has partnered with Target Circle. Please follow our social media to learn how you can help support the Center with your Target shopping for the next ninety days!

In today’s update:

Apply_for_UniteCT

Assistance_with_funeral_expenses

Connecticut_mortgage_delinquencies

Eviction_moratoriums

Eviction_statistics

File_CDC_complaints_with_CFPB

Get_the_vaccine

Help_for_homeowners

Outreach

Right_to_Counsel_update

UniteCT_updates

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

  • Landlords have filed 862 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 308 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.

UniteCT updates:

  • As of April 12, 2021, the UniteCT guidelines state applications will be deemed ineligible if the person applying is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance such as a housing choice voucher or is living in public housing. Despite this, Department of Housing (DOH) is urging tenants who have housing vouchers or who live in public housing to apply. The tenants will be denied but will be eligible to appeal that denial. The instructions on how to appeal a denial are coming soon. DOH will then decide as to whether the tenant needs the assistance. At present there are no published guidelines on how DOH will determine “need.”
  • 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 public and subsidized housing are people of color. Without published rules regarding how DOH will determine whether these tenants are truly in need, it is possible that arbitrary decisions will be made regarding eligibility.
  • 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.
  • The DOH has announced that it will publish data on UniteCT’s program efficacy and equity on Fridays. DOH recommends reading the FAQs on the program page for answers to any questions about the UniteCT program.
  • Tenants should receive a confirmation email once an application is submitted. If the tenant does not receive the confirmation, they should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov to ensure the application was submitted.
  • Once a tenant applies, their landlord should receive an email from UniteCT stating that an application has been submitted and asking the landlord for information. If the landlord still has not received this email, email doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328 to determine why the landlord has not received additional information.
  • All tenants must have a written rental agreement 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. If a tenant is unable to get the landlord to write a rental agreement, email doh-unitect@ct.gov.
  • The UniteCT application includes an “attestation” form for use if the tenant does NOT have documentation of their income, their unemployment date, if current income is zero, the amount of rent past due, or the amount of utilities owed. However, DOH has stated the attestation form cannot be used in place of paystubs or other proof of employment.
  • The tenant can find out if information is missing from their application by checking their application in UniteCT or by emailing doh-unitect@ct.gov. DOH hopes to be able to contact tenants with missing pieces of their application after they have hired additional staff.
  • DOH is currently working on applications where the tenant has been unemployed for 90 days or more and with people who are at 50% of area median income. Once those applications have been fully processed, DOH will move on to the next group of applications.
  • 48 applications for UniteCT have been approved since March 15, 2021.
  • 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.
  • Even though there are community agencies assisting with applications, tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application because many do not have reliable access to the internet. The UniteCT tech bus will be making stops at various locations throughout out Connecticut in April. The schedule is listed at the bottom of the UniteCT website.
  • The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments.
  • The online application’s “Help Portal” does not translate the instructions into any language other than English.
  • Outreach materials are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

How to Apply for UniteCT: 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.

Ask Gov. Lamont to Use Federal Funds for a Right to Counsel for Tenants: Connecticut has a historic opportunity to use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to launch a right to counsel program for tenants facing eviction. Evictions cause homelessness and negatively impact health, education, employment, and future housing stability. Providing legal representation to tenants has been shown to reduce evictions and forced moves and save the state money in shelter costs, emergency services, child welfare, and education

  • Health care providers, health researchers, and other medical professional are sending a letter to Governor Lamont asking him to use federal funding for legal representation for tenants to address the public health impacts of the eviction crisis. Health care professionals can sign on to the letter by Monday, April 19 at 5 pm. 
  • Use this script to contact Governor Lamont and the legislature.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 26% of Latinx renters and 17% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 10% of white renters.

The Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFPB) is investigating complaints from tenants whose landlords file unlawful evictions that violate the moratorium. In a fact sheet released by the White House the administration explains that CFPB will monitor and investigate eviction practices to ensure that companies are complying with the law. Tenants can submit complaints to the CFPB, and learn more about their rights under the current ban on evictions.

The Federal Trade Commission issued a statement explaining that landlords have an obligation to let tenants know about the CDC moratorium before trying to evict them. “Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or evicting or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices.”

Assistance with funeral expenses:  FEMA launched their funeral assistance program on Monday April 12th. This program will provide a benefit to qualified applicants who paid for funeral expenses for an individual whose death was likely the result of COVID-19.

IRS extension to file taxes:  The IRS announced that it was extending the date to file taxes to May 17, 2021.

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for a vaccine.  Appointments can be made online or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare), 860-679-4400 (UConn Health), or (877) 918-2224 (the state vaccine system). Deaf and hard of hearing can access the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line through the Connecticut Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1. The Assist Line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

EVICTIONS

The Connecticut eviction moratorium has four exceptions and is scheduled to expire on April 20: Until April 20, 2021, a landlord may only serve a Notice to Quit or start an eviction case in court if the tenant:

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

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

The federal CDC eviction moratorium is scheduled to end on June 30, 2021: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut eviction moratorium may still qualify for protection under the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent 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. 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.

You can also use a CDC Declaration generator available in English and Spanish to (1) sign the Declaration form electronically, and (2) either email it to yourself and to your landlord or download and print it out. If you already have an eviction case in court, you should also give copies of the declarations to the court. Visit our website for English and Spanish fact sheets on both the Connecticut and CDC eviction moratoriums.

Paying Rent: Tenants are still required to pay rent. If you cannot pay your full rent, you should still pay as much of the rent as possible on time and keep any records of your payments. To be protected by the Connecticut moratorium’s ban on nonpayment evictions, you must keep the total amount of rent you owe below 6 months of rent. This moratorium is also scheduled to expire on April 20, 2021.

Applying a Portion of Your Security Deposit to Rent: Under Executive Order 10A, if you paid a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent, you can apply the portion that is more than one month’s rent toward rent that was due from April 1, 2020 through April 19, 2021. You must make this request to your landlord in writing and should keep a copy of your request.

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.

Homelessness Prevention Program: The Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) run by the Coordinated Access Network throughout Connecticut is providing assistance to tenants at risk of becoming homeless. The program provides payment of some rental arrearages to people who have received a Notice to Quit from their landlord, have been unable to pay rent on or after March 1, 2020, and have income at or below 50% of the 2020 Area Median Income. To apply, tenants should call 2-1-1 and ask about the Homelessness Prevention Program.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

Connecticut homeowners seriously delinquent on their mortgages:  According to CoreLogic, Connecticut has the 9th highest delinquency rate in the country with serious delinquencies at 4.8% (as of January ’21). This means that more than 1 in 21 homeowners are 90 days or more on their mortgage, and the numbers are much worse for homeowners with FHA mortgages.

Fannie and Freddie extend time to apply for a forbearance to June 30, 2021:  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to qualifying multifamily property owners through June 30, 2021, subject to the continued tenant protections FHFA has imposed during the pandemic. The programs were set to expire March 31, 2021. This extends the eviction protections in place for tenants in 5+ unit properties where the landlord has obtained a mortgage forbearance from Fannie/Freddie.

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.

Mediations have resumed in foreclosure cases: On February 25, 2021, the Judicial Branch announced that it will resume scheduling mediations beginning on March 1, 2021. Premediation and mediation will take place involving mortgage foreclosures that do not involve federally backed mortgages. At this time, all premediations and mediations will be held virtually, not in person. 

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 to receive individualized legal information and advice. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

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.

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ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

April 8, 2021

Sunday, April 11, 2021, is the 53rd anniversary of passage of the Fair Housing Act. The Center is celebrating Fair Housing Month by listening to women of color who continue to fight for the goals of the Fair Housing Act. Register for Unsung Heroines: An Ode to Women of Color in Fair Housing where we will be joined by Lisa Rice, Keenya Robertson, Vanessa Lilies, Karen DuBois-Walton, and Monique Price-Taylor who will share their triumphs and struggles in fighting for housing equity. This is a free and remote event taking place on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, please register to receive webinar link. Learn more about the event on our Facebook.

The Center has partnered with Target Circle. Please follow our social media to learn how you can help support the Center with your Target shopping for the next ninety days!

Since the public health emergency began one year ago, on March 10, 2020, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:

  • Landlords have filed 5,004 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 1,421 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 April 1, 2021:

UniteCT is accepting applications. The new emergency rental and utilities assistance program, called UniteCT, opened on Monday, March 15, 2021. The assistance is available to everyone with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who has 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.

The latest news on the use of UniteCT by tenants and landlords:

  • The Department of Housing (DOH) has announced that it will be publishing data on UniteCT’s program efficacy and equity on Fridays;
  • DOH reports that more than 3,200 landlords and tenants have completed applications for UniteCT;
  • 669 new summary process (eviction) cases have been filed since UniteCT started taking applications on March 15, 2021 and more than 376 renting families have lost possession of their units during that time;
  • Even though there are community agencies assisting with applications, tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application because many do not have reliable access to the internet;
  • The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments;
  • The online application’s “Help Portal” does not translate the instructions into any language other than English;
  • Outreach materials are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The CDC has extended the federal eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021. To receive the moratorium’s protection, eligible tenants must fill out a declaration form and give it to their landlord. See more details below under the eviction section of this update.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 26% of Latinx renters and 17% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 10% of whites.

The Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFPB) is investigating complaints from tenants whose landlords file unlawful evictions that violate the moratorium. In a fact sheet released by the White House the administration explains that CFPB will monitor and investigate eviction practices to ensure that companies are complying with the law. Tenants can submit complaints to the CFPB, and learn more about their rights under the current ban on evictions.

The Federal Trade Commission issued a statement explaining that landlords have an obligation to let tenants know about the CDC moratorium before trying to evict them. “Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or evicting or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices.”

Ask Gov. Lamont to Use Federal Funds for a Right to Counsel for Tenants: Connecticut has a historic opportunity to use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to launch a right to counsel program for tenants facing eviction. Evictions cause homelessness and negatively impact education, employment, health, and future housing stability. Access to counsel for tenants is an intervention that can save the state money in shelter costs, emergency services, child welfare, and education. Reports measure a cost savings that is 2 to 12 times greater than the investment. Use this script to call, write, and tweet at Governor Lamont to fund the Right to Counsel with federal relief funds in H.B. 6531.

The 15th annual Fair Housing & Civil Rights Conference begins Tuesday, April 13, 2021. The conference features keynote speakers Tiffany Manuel (DrT), Deborah Archer, and Jeanine Worde. Registration is free and workshops are remote.

Housing attorneys with the Center confirm that the Connecticut eviction moratorium does not protect the most vulnerable tenants. Attorney Melissa Marichal explains that the serious nonpayment exception in the state’s eviction moratorium has increased eviction case filings and left those tenants most impacted by the pandemic vulnerable to eviction.

IRS extension to file taxes:  The IRS announced that it was extending the date to file taxes to May 17, 2021.

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for a vaccine.  Appointments can be made online or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare), 860-679-4400 (UConn Health), or (877) 918-2224 (the state vaccine system). Deaf and hard of hearing can access the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line through the Connecticut Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1. The Assist Line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

EVICTIONS

The Connecticut eviction moratorium has four exceptions: Until April 20, 2021, a landlord may only serve a Notice to Quit or start an eviction case in court if the tenant:

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

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

The federal CDC eviction moratorium is now scheduled to end on June 30, 2021: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut eviction moratorium may still qualify for protection under the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent 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. 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.

You can also use a CDC Declaration generator available in English and Spanish to (1) sign the Declaration form electronically, and (2) either email it to yourself and to your landlord or download and print it out. If you already have an eviction case in court, you should also give copies of the declarations to the court. Visit our website for English and Spanish fact sheets on both the Connecticut and CDC eviction moratoriums.

Paying Rent: Tenants are still required to pay rent. If you cannot pay your full rent, you should still pay as much of the rent as possible on time and keep any records of your payments. To be protected by the Connecticut moratorium’s ban on nonpayment evictions, you must keep the total amount of rent you owe below 6 months of rent.

Applying a Portion of Your Security Deposit to Rent: Under Executive Order 10A, if you paid a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent, you can apply the portion that is more than one month’s rent toward rent that was due from April 1, 2020 through April 19, 2021. You must make this request to your landlord in writing and should keep a copy of your request.

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.

Homelessness Prevention Program: The Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) run by the Coordinated Access Network throughout Connecticut is providing assistance to tenants at risk of becoming homeless. The program provides payment of some rental arrearages to people who have received a Notice to Quit from their landlord, have been unable to pay rent on or after March 1, 2020, and have income at or below 50% of the 2020 Area Median Income. To apply, tenants should call 2-1-1 and ask about the Homelessness Prevention Program.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

The State’s uneven recovery and its effect on homeowners: Across Connecticut, lower-income families are facing foreclosure at higher rates, renters are facing a wave of evictions, and a hot housing market and ever-changing banking rules are putting home-ownership further out of reach. Federal aid might help, but the problems have deep roots — and in many ways, the coronavirus pandemic has only made things worse. At least one out of every 14 residential mortgages in Connecticut was delinquent or in foreclosure in February, the 13th highest rate in the United States and well above the state’s pre-pandemic level, according to the real estate data firm Black Knight. But in ZIP codes in Connecticut where more people of color and more people with limited English proficiency live, there are much higher rates of people behind on their mortgages, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta show. For example, in the Hill neighborhood in New Haven, one out of every nine residential mortgages was behind in November, compared to one in 31 mortgages a few miles away in Branford.

Lower-income homeowners get cheated on property taxes:  Quoting a report by a University of Chicago researcher, the New York Times reports that local governments are failing at the basic task of accurately assessing property values, and there is a clear and striking pattern: more expensive properties are undervalued, while less expensive properties are overvalued. The result is that wealthy homeowners get a big tax break, while less affluent homeowners are paying a higher price for the same public services. For example, in Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, 1,015 homes were sold for exactly $100,000 from 2007 to 2016. Their average assessed value before the sale was $151,585. During the same decade, 149 homes sold for exactly $1 million. Their average presale assessed value: $647,030. These distortions in assessed values carry through directly to tax bills. 

Connecticut’s real estate market tightens. Families seeking affordable homeownership will likely be left out of this real estate boom. Most communities in Connecticut saw an increase in cost and overall sales in 2020.However, with the June 30 end to the federal moratorium on foreclosure of Fannie and Freddie properties approaching, real estate brokers are worried that additional foreclosure properties on the market could result in softening the sales market.

Fannie and Freddie extend time to apply for a forbearance to June 30, 2021:  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to qualifying multifamily property owners through June 30, 2021, subject to the continued tenant protections FHFA has imposed during the pandemic. The programs were set to expire March 31, 2021. This extends the eviction protections in place for tenants in 5+ unit properties where the landlord has obtained a mortgage forbearance from Fannie/Freddie.

Mediations resuming in foreclosure cases: On February 25, 2021, the Judicial Branch announced that it will resume scheduling mediations beginning on March 1, 2021. Premediation and mediation will take place involving mortgage foreclosures that do not involve federally backed mortgages. At this time, all premediations and mediations will be held virtually, not in person. 

Federal extension of the foreclosure moratorium:  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced an extension of their foreclosure moratorium to June 30, 2021. This announcement matches what the Biden administration had announced for FHA, VA, and USDA loans. This extension will also provide additional mortgage payment forbearance for those who qualify.

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.

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 to receive individualized legal information and advice. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

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.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

April 1, 2021

April is Fair Housing Month. The Fair Housing Act was passed on April 11, 1968, just seven days after the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. The intentions of federal and state fair housing laws have yet to be realized. Our neighborhoods continue to be hypersegregated by race and class. Connecticut’s three largest metropolitan areas are in the top 70 most segregated metropolitan areas in the country. Please continue to support our work assisting victims of housing discrimination.

Register for Unsung Heroines: An Ode to Women of Color in Fair Housing where we will recognize the contributions women of color have made in the fair housing movement. Lisa Rice, the President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance will be our keynote speaker. This is a free and remote event taking place on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, please register to receive webinar link. Learn more about the event on our Facebook.

The Center has partnered with Target Circle. Please follow our social media to learn how you can help support the Center with your Target shopping for the next ninety days!

Since the public health emergency began one year ago, on March 10, 2020, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:

  • Landlords have filed 4,802 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 1,343 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 March 26, 2021:

UniteCT is accepting applications. The new emergency rental and utilities assistance program, called UniteCT, opened on Monday, March 15, 2021. The assistance is available to everyone with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who has 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 and advocates are reporting several issues accessing UniteCT rental assistance funds:

  • Landlords are refusing to participate in the program and moving ahead with evictions;
  • Tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application;
  • The online application portal is not accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments;
  • The online application does not translate all necessary information into multiple languages;
  • Outreach materials are still not available in languages requested by advocates;
  • Data on program efficacy and equity has yet to be released.

The CDC has extended the federal eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021. To receive the moratorium’s protection, eligible tenants must fill out a declaration form and give it to their landlord. See more details below under the eviction section of this update.

The Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFPB) is investigating complaints from tenants whose landlords file unlawful evictions that violate the moratorium. In a fact sheet released by the White House the administration explains that CFPB will monitor and investigate eviction practices to ensure that companies are complying with the law. Tenants can submit complaints to the CFPB, and learn more about their rights under the current ban on evictions.

The Federal Trade Commission issued a statement explaining that landlords have an obligation to let tenants know about the CDC moratorium before trying to evict them. “Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or evicting or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices.”

Housing attorneys with the Center confirm that the Connecticut eviction moratorium does not protect the most vulnerable tenants. Attorney Melissa Marichal explains that the serious nonpayment exception in the state’s eviction moratorium has increased eviction case filings and left those tenants most impacted by the pandemic vulnerable to eviction. Permitting evictions based on the severity of a tenant’s financial distress undermines the public health purpose of the moratorium. And because of racial and ethnic disparities in wealth, job loss, and COVID-19 infection rates, the serious nonpayment exception also disproportionately harms Black and Latinx families and undermines racial justice.

Economic recovery in Connecticut is uneven: In the first of a three-part series the CT Mirror chronicles the state’s economic recovery. The reporting documents that predominately white and affluent communities are heading towards economic stability. However, poor neighborhoods that are home to mostly people of color still suffer with high unemployment, business vacancy, and significant food insecurities.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 21% of Latinx families and 18% of Black families report that they are not current on rent payments compared to 12% of white families.

Connecticut’s Planning and Development committee advances fair share legislation out of committee. The bill requires towns to fulfill their obligations under fair housing laws and provide a “fair share” of affordable housing within their town. Center staff discuss the use of racist and exclusionary zoning that works to prevent the development of affordable housing in predominantly white communities.

IRS extension to file taxes:  The IRS announced that it was extending the date to file taxes to May 17, 2021.

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for a vaccine.  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). Deaf and hard of- hearing can access the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line through the Connecticut Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1.  The Assist Line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The phone number to call for vaccination scheduling is: 877-918-2224.

EVICTIONS

The Connecticut eviction moratorium has four exceptions: Until April 20, 2021, a landlord may only serve a Notice to Quit or start an eviction case in court if the tenant:

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

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

The federal CDC eviction moratorium is now scheduled to end on June 30, 2021: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut eviction moratorium may still qualify for protection under the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent 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. 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.

You can also use a CDC Declaration generator available in English and Spanish to (1) sign the Declaration form electronically, and (2) either email it to yourself and to your landlord or download and print it out. If you already have an eviction case in court, you should also give copies of the declarations to the court. Visit our website for English and Spanish fact sheets on both the Connecticut and CDC eviction moratoriums.

Paying Rent: Tenants are still required to pay rent. If you cannot pay your full rent, you should still pay as much of the rent as possible on time and keep any records of your payments. To be protected by the Connecticut moratorium’s ban on nonpayment evictions, you must keep the total amount of rent you owe below 6 months of rent.

Applying a Portion of Your Security Deposit to Rent: Under Executive Order 9T, if you paid a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent, you can apply the portion that is more than one month’s rent toward rent that was due between April 1, 2020 and February 9, 2021. You must make this request to your landlord in writing and should keep a copy of your request.

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.

Right to counsel is a racial justice issue:  Since the Connecticut eviction moratorium began on April 10, 2020, over 3,000 Connecticut households have had eviction cases filed against them. Over half of these households were Black or Latinx, even though these groups combined comprise less than a quarter of the overall population. In Connecticut, less than 7 percent of tenants facing eviction—and just 5 percent of Black and Latinx tenants facing eviction—have legal counsel compared to over 80 percent of landlords. Connecticut has been in a housing crisis for years, with four cities ranking in the top 100 evicting cities. Passing H.B. 6531, a bill that would create a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction will not only help prevent evictions, but also make a huge difference for communities of color. The eviction crisis is a racial justice crisis, and right to counsel legislation provides one of the most immediate tools to generate positive change.

Homelessness Prevention Program: The Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) run by the Coordinated Access Network throughout Connecticut is providing assistance to tenants at risk of becoming homeless. The program provides payment of some rental arrearages to people who have received a Notice to Quit from their landlord, have been unable to pay rent on or after March 1, 2020, and have income at or below 50% of the 2020 Area Median Income. To apply, tenants should call 2-1-1 and ask about the Homelessness Prevention Program.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

Connecticut’s real estate market tightens. Families seeking affordable homeownership will likely be left out of this real estate boom. Most communities in Connecticut saw an increase in cost and overall sales in 2020.However, with the June 30 end to the federal moratorium on foreclosure of Fannie and Freddie properties approaching, real estate brokers are worried that additional foreclosure properties on the market could result in softening the sales market.

Fannie and Freddie extend time to apply for a forbearance to June 30, 2021:  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to qualifying multifamily property owners through June 30, 2021, subject to the continued tenant protections FHFA has imposed during the pandemic. The programs were set to expire March 31, 2021. This extends the eviction protections in place for tenants in 5+ unit properties where the landlord has obtained a mortgage forbearance from Fannie/Freddie.

Mediations resuming in foreclosure cases: On February 25, 2021, the Judicial Branch announced that it will resume scheduling mediations beginning on March 1, 2021. Premediation and mediation will take place involving mortgage foreclosures s that do not involve federally backed mortgages. At this time, all premediations and mediations will be held virtually, not in person. 

Recently released data shows extent of mortgage delinquencies in Connecticut communities: Using data from several sources, it is clear that mortgage delinquencies have been at very high levels in many Connecticut communities while the number of people with mortgage forbearances – people falling behind with the temporary permission of their mortgage companies – is also high.

Federal extension of the foreclosure moratorium:  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced an extension of their foreclosure moratorium to June 30, 2021. This announcement matches what the Biden administration had announced for FHA, VA, and USDA loans. This extension will also provide additional mortgage payment forbearance for those who qualify.

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.

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.

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.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The CDC will extend the eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended a nationwide ban on evictions from September 4, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

BUT this protection is NOT automatic. To receive this protection, every adult in your household (18 or older) MUST:

  1. Read the CDC Declaration. Make sure that all of it is true about your situation. To sign the declaration, your household must meet all the eligibility requirements, including that you are not able to pay full rent or other housing payments because your household has lost income or has very expensive medical bills. You can review our eligibility checklist for more info.
  2. Sign the Declaration, if all the information in the Declaration is true. If anything is not true, you should not sign the Declaration.
  3. Give the Declaration to your landlord. Try to send it by email and/or certified mail, so you have proof you sent it.

Keep a copy of the signed Declaration, all other communications with your landlord and any proof you have that you meet the requirements below.

Note: If your landlord already filed an eviction case against you in court, you may still use the Declaration, if you meet the requirements. After you give the Declaration to your landlord, give a copy of the declaration to the Court too.

Eligibility Requirements Checklist

You must meet ALL the requirements below to use the Declaration:

  • You cannot pay your full rent or other housing payments because your household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills;
  • You will likely become homeless or forced to live in someone else’s home in crowded conditions if you are evicted;
  • Your total annual income for Calendar Year 2020-21 will be less than $99,000/year (or $198,000/year for 2 adults) OR you qualified for a stimulus check OR you did not have to pay income tax in 2020;
  • You promise to pay as much of your rent as possible on time; and
  • You have made your best effort to apply for government rental and housing assistance
  1. You can apply for rental assistance through the Unite CT program, or by calling 2-1-1 and asking about the Homelessness Prevention Program.

You can also use the CDC Declaration generator at www.covid19evictionforms.com to (1) sign the Declaration form electronically, and (2) either email it to yourself and to your landlord or download and print it out.

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