Fair Housing COVID-19 Response 5.28.20

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

May 28, 2020

The Center’s daily update will now be published weekly on Thursdays.

Important Deadlines:  There is no extension for paying June rent. If you did not pay April rent, that is due in June also.

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

  • Click here to understand current tenant rent relief options in Spanish and English.
  • Click here to find more details in our tenant FAQs.
  • Click here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
  • Click here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Recently added Tagalog and Khmer translations to our guidance now available in 11 languages.)
  • The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
  • here.

What happened since May 21, 2020:

  • Unemployment numbers continue to surge: April’s unemployment numbers show that Connecticut lost 266,300 jobs in April. As a result, Labor Commissioner Kurt Wesby estimates that the unemployment rate in Connecticut is close to 17.5%. In contrast, Connecticut lost 120,000 jobs between March 2008 and January 2010, the period dubbed “The Great Recession.” For more on this story, click here.
  • Boston Federal Reserve Bank predicts a surge of missed rent and mortgage payments: The Federal Reserve projects that nearly 100,000 Connecticut homeowners and 170,000 renters are at risk of missing at least one rent or mortgage payment especially when federal unemployment benefits end in July. To read more about the ongoing need for rental and mortgage assistance, click here.
  • Mortgages in forbearance continue to grow: The mortgage industry company Black Knight reported that, as of the week ended May 7, 8.8% of all mortgages and 12.4% of FHA/VA mortgages are in forbearance. These totals plus recent projections by Black Knight make it likely that seriously delinquent mortgages (90+ days delinquent) will be worse than at the peak of the Great Recession (8.13% in Connecticut) by the fall. For more information on this story, click here.
  • Avalanche of evictions: The economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly hard on renters who are more likely to be lower-income and work hourly jobs cut during the pandemic. For more on who is likely to be unable to pay rent, click here.
  • Tenants paying rent in May but what about June: Stimulus funds in the form of enhanced unemployment and stimulus payments helped tenants pay rent in May, but it is unclear what will happen in June and July once those benefits begin to dry up. For more on what may happen to people who cannot pay the rent when eviction moratoriums and benefits end, click here.
  • CHFA instructs servicers on foreclosures, evictions, and payment forbearance: On May 22, CHFA instructed all of its servicers to: 1) halt all new foreclosure actions; 2) suspend all foreclosure actions currently in process (including the filing of any motions or proceeding with any pending matters in any way); and 3) cease all eviction and ejectment activity through June 30. In addition, it reminded services that the CARES Act authorizes payment forbearance for all requesting borrowers who affirm that they are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the current crisis and that no fees, penalties, or extra interest may be charged. For more information, click here.
  • Utility shut off moratorium is still in place: Utility companies in Connecticut are still not shutting off utilities. In addition, all have suspended late payment fees or interest charges to all accounts. Contact your local utility companies to find out about new services or creating a payment plan. Shut offs may resume on July 1.
  • Limited Court operations to resume in three counties: The Connecticut Judicial Branch is targeting the partial resumption of operations in three courthouses starting Monday, June 8, 2020, The three courthouses are: the Middlesex Judicial District Courthouse in Middletown, Rockville’s Geographical Area No. 19 Courthouse, and the Litchfield Judicial District Courthouse at Torrington. For information on the types of cases that will be heard and the rules for entering the courthouses, click here.
  • Call to Action: Tenants in Connecticut are calling on Governor Lamont to stop all evictions indefinitely and cancel the obligation to pay rent. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown, over 50% of renters across the state were cost-burdened, paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs. Connecticut leads the nation in income inequality, and this burden is disproportionately shouldered by Black and brown communities: nearly 60% of Black renters and 55% of Hispanic renters are cost-burdened compared to 43% of white renters. For more information on tenants’ demands and to sign the petition, click here. To join the Cancel Rent CT Caravans happening on May 30 and to participate in the daily actions on Mondays and Wednesdays, click here.
  • Outreach: Staff continue to hold fair housing trainings and COVID-19 housing resource workshops via Zoom with social service agencies, direct service providers, and invested stakeholders. If your agency would find a short resource webinar or fair housing training helpful during this crisis please contact Shaznene Hussain, the Center’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, at shussain@ctfairhousing.org.  

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

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

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

Request Rent Recalculation

If you live in low-income public housing or have a Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) and you have lost income due to the Covid-19 health emergency, you can use this website to send a letter to the housing authority to report a change in your income and request that your rent be recalculated: https://ctfairhousing.org/rent/.

PRESS RELEASE: Protecting Civil & Human Rights During Covid-19 Public Health Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 19, 2020

Contacts: Meg Dubois, CWEALF, mdubois@cwealf.org and Finn Darby-Hudgens, Connecticut Fair Housing Center, finn@ctfairhousing.org

Protecting Civil & Human Rights During Covid-19 Public Health Crisis

(Connecticut) Advocates and attorneys for under-served communities from across the state came together today, March 19, 2020, to send a letter to Governor Lamont that identifies a growing list of concerns for their clients during the Covid-19 public health care crisis. The letter lists concerns for several populations including people currently incarcerated, low-income workers, immigrants, people who are homeless, families with limited housing stability, people with disabilities, youth in the justice system, people in policed communities, people without health insurance, people in psychiatric facilities, people with food insecurities, and people without paid leave as the populations that will be most disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 public health crisis.

The letter outlines provisions that the state should take as a part of their response to this pandemic. Recommendations include provisions for:

  • Improved workplace safety and paid sick days and paid leave for healthcare and frontline workers;
  • Protections for Connecticut residents currently being held in immigration detention centers outside of the state;
  • Real and effective eviction and foreclosure moratoriums to provide housing stability for low income;
  • A call for decarceration and “action for preventing lockdowns and solitary confinement; access to healthcare, hygiene supplies, schooling, and free phone calls;
  • A temporary suspension of termination for all federally reimbursed assistance programs;
  • Protections for pregnant women and uninsured children;
  • Increased access to the Internet for low-income youth

The signing organizations make a final plea to the state’s leadership for “transparency regarding membership of the state’s emergency response teams and daily, public briefings regarding the state’s emergency response plans for disproportionately impacted residents” and welcomes working in a coordinated way with the Governor’s emergency operation teams.

For comment and quotes on specific concerns referenced in the letter please follow the contact list link here to be directed towards the correct organization. It is our collective impact strategy to provide space for agency and industry experts to comment appropriately.

Important Notice on Covid-19 & Fair Housing Protections

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Center is working to better understand and address any fair housing impacts of Covid-19.

FAIR HOUSING AND THE CURRENT COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The fair housing laws can protect people who are infected with Covid-19 and those who are perceived as being infected.

FAIR HOUSING, NATIONAL ORIGIN DISCRIMINATION AND COVID-19

The state and federal fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on national origin. This means:

• It is illegal to deny you housing or shelter because you are from one of the countries most affected by Covid-19 or are perceived as being from such a country.

• It is illegal to have different rules for you than for everyone else because you are from one of the countries most affected by Covid-19 or are perceived as being from such a country.

• It is illegal for a landlord to send you a Notice to Quit or try to evict you because you are from one of the countries most affected by Covid-19 or are perceived as being from such a country.

FAIR HOUSING, DISABILITY AND COVID-19

State and federal fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on disability. If you are infected with Covid-19, you are considered disabled under the state and federal fair housing laws and may be protected from discrimination.

• If you do not have Covid-19 but a landlord or housing provider denies you housing or shelter because they believe you have the virus, this is illegal and you should call the Center.

• If you do not have Covid-19 but a landlord or housing provider quarantines you or imposes different rules on you because they believe you have the virus, this is illegal and you should call the Center. If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and you have been denied housing or shelter or had different rules imposed on you should contact the Center so we can discuss and explain how the fair housing laws apply to your situation.

Please see our Notice on Fair Housing Protections against discrimination during this public health emergency. En Español: Vivienda Justa y Covid-19.

2020 Fair Lending & Mortgage Clinics

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center will hold a series of Fair Lending & Mortgage Clinics this year throughout the state. The clinics will address questions and concerns about applying for a home loan without discrimination, keeping a mortgage, and foreclosure prevention. The clinics are open to anyone applying for a home loan or any homeowner facing foreclosure. The clinics are FREE, and no pre-registration is required.

Clinic participants will receive information about fair lending laws, the home loan application process, the judicial foreclosure and mediation process, guidance on how to prepare and what documents to bring to court, and information about resources available to homeowners.

After the presentations, participants will also have the opportunity to meet with attorneys to discuss their individual situations.

A list of the clinic locations and dates is available here. If you have any questions, please let us know at info@ctfairhousing.org.

*NOTE: The Clinic scheduled on March 24, 2020, in partnership with the Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford, has been CANCELLED due to public health concerns related to Covid-19. We will do our best to reschedule this clinic at a later date.

Defend Civil Rights in Housing!

Join us for Comments & Cocktails… and Call on HUD to Defend Civil Rights in Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing to gut the longstanding legal tool known as disparate impact under the Fair Housing Act, that would destroy a 45-year-old protection against housing discrimination and would pave the way for widespread harm to millions of people.

We are hosting a Comments Party on September 26, 2019 from 4:30-6:00PM at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center to raise awareness of the proposed changes and encourage people to submit a comment, urging HUD to reconsider the proposed changes. We will have refreshments, information about disparate impact, and sample comments so that we can help achieve the goal of submitting 100,000 comments to HUD.

Join us, invite your friends, and help to defend civil rights in Housing! Please RSVP at www.ctfairhousing.org/comments-party.

Can’t make it Hartford for Comments & Cocktails? You can submit comments here and learn more about HUD’s proposed attack on civil rights at defendcivilrights.org.

Ending Sexual Harassment in Housing – Seminar

The Norwalk Fair Housing Advisory Commission, in partnership with the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, will host a seminar on Ending Sexual Harassment in Housing on September 18, 2019 at the Norwalk City Hall.

The following presenters will speak about ways to address and prevent sexual harassment in Housing:

Nancy Gifford, Esq., Assistant US Attorney with US Department of Justice

Ndidi Moses, Esq., Assistant US Attorney with US Department of Justice

Greg Kanaan, Equal Opportunity Specialist, HUD FHEO Office, Hartford

Erin Kemple, Esq., Executive Director, Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Hartford

If you would like to attend the seminar, please complete the Registration Form to select a session. The morning and afternoon sessions will address the same content, so you may register to attend one of two sessions.

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