QUARTERLY UPDATE ON ISSUES AFFECTING OUR CLIENTS

First Quarter, 2022

Beginning in March 2020, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center sent daily (then weekly, then monthly) updates to Connecticut’s leaders and partners on the issues affecting our clients. We included resources for how to address those issues. While some effects of the pandemic have disappeared, our clients’ needs have not. As you can see below, tenants are still in danger of losing their homes even as the assistance available to them runs out. Please help the Center and its allies advocate for changes that will help low-income tenants stay in their homes.

To receive this quarterly update in the future, click here.

Housing instability by the numbers

  • March 2022 has the highest number of new evictions filed. In March 2022, landlords filed 2,495 new eviction cases, the highest number filed in any month since the Judicial Branch began keeping records in 2017. This number is equal to 80 filings every workday since the year began. In addition, the courts have issued 1,181 executions. Once an execution is issued, a marshal can serve the tenant with a notice that they must move out within 24 hours.
  • Eviction increases are likely to continue. The latest data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey reveals that as of March 14, 2022, 91,760 renters were behind on their rent. Of the households behind on their rent, 71.8% identified as a person of color compared to only 7.6% of whites.
  • UniteCT is nearly out of funds. According to the UniteCT dashboard, all of funding received from the Treasury Department for the emergency rental assistance program has been disbursed or committed. The Department of Housing’s latest request for additional funding from the Treasury Department was denied.
  • Rents are rising. Recent data reveals that rents have been rising steadily over the last five years. New Haven, Middlesex, and New London Counties saw rent increases of more than $300 per month while Fairfield County has had an average increase of about $260 per month. Fairfield County has the highest rents in the state. Since January 2020, rents have risen an average of 15% making it nearly impossible for people who are low-income to stay in their homes.
  • Foreclosure filings are up. The number of new foreclosure actions filed is starting to reach pre-pandemic levels with 1,281 filed during the first three months of 2022. More than 77,500 homeowners reported they were not caught up on their mortgage payments.

Response efforts

  • Low-income tenants in eviction have a right to counsel. In 2021, the Connecticut legislature passed a law giving low-income tenants a right to a lawyer when faced with eviction or subsidy termination. The program is currently serving 15 high-evicting zip codes with more to be added as the program is staffed up. To find out if you qualify for a free lawyer to help you fight an eviction or keep your housing subsidy, call 1-800-559-1565 or go to EvictionHelpCT.org. Low-income tenants in eligible zip codes can get assistance as soon as they receive a Notice to Quit or a notice of subsidy termination.
  • The Homeowner Assistance Fund is helping some homeowners now. The CHFA program, MyHomeCT, is offering a third pilot phase to assist homeowners facing an imminent non-mortgage foreclosure or tax sale. If you owe condominium fees, real estate taxes, or other fees associated with your homeownership, please call Connecticut Fair Housing Center at (860) 263-0731 to review your situation. CHFA expects to roll out the program for all low-income homeowners facing foreclosure in the next few months.

Legislative efforts

The Center is working with tenants and other housing advocates to address the causes of the increasing evictions.

  • Expanding Fair Rent Commissions will curb runaway rent increases. H.B. 5205 proposes expanding the number of fair rent commissions to include all Connecticut communities with populations of 25,000 people or more. Fair Rent Commissions allow tenants to challenge unjustified rent increases. The current Fair Rent Commission standard limits rent increases that are so excessive as to be harsh and unconscionable. In addition, Fair Rent Commissions look at a landlord’s costs, the apartment’s condition, and the rent for similar units to determine if the rent increase is fair. For more information on the bill and how to support it, click here.
  • Requiring good cause for eviction will help tenants stay in their homes. For over forty years Connecticut has prohibited no-fault evictions against renters who are at least 62 years old or have a disability and live in a building with five or more units, preventing their arbitrary displacement from their homes. Unfortunately, no-fault evictions for tenants younger than 62 and those without a disability more than doubled from August – December 2021 compared to to the same period in 2019. H.B. 5233 expands Good Cause protections to all renters living in buildings with five or more units, allowing residents to enjoy housing security and establish roots in their communities. For more information on the bill and how to support it, click here.
  • Connecticut needs more affordable housing. Another reason for the growing eviction crisis is a lack of affordable housing. Connecticut needs at least 14,000 additional affordable units to house its citizens. H.B. 5204 was raised to begin to address this need. If passed, the bill would require (1) an assessment of the state-wide need for affordable housing and an allocation of such need to planning regions and municipalities; (2) the creation of affordable housing plans for each municipality; and (3) a study concerning the municipalities’ performance in meeting the requirements of such plans. Growing Together CT has spearheaded the work on this bill. Their website includes more information about Connecticut’s need for more affordable housing.

A look ahead …

  • April is Fair Housing Month. The Center is planning an event for late April. Please follow our socials @ctfairhousing for event details.
  • Summer internship. Research for social justice.  In New London, Connecticut, the Winthrop Cove Urban Renewal Project displaced an estimated 667 families and destroyed about 690 homes. Research suggests that 25% of households displaced were people of color. The City of New London in partnership with the Connecticut Fair Housing Center wishes to learn more about what types of housing was lost and who lost their homes. Internships are paid, and applicants must be able to work in New London, Connecticut. Email Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens, at finn@ctfairhousing.org, if you would like to know more about how to participate in this project.

Expand Good Cause Eviction Protections

H.B. 5233 C.G.A 2022

Expand Good Cause Eviction Protections (H.B. 5233)

Good Cause Protects Renters from Displacement

  • For over forty years Connecticut has prohibited no-fault evictions against renters who are at least 62 years old or have a disability and live in a building with five or more units, preventing their arbitrary displacement from their homes.
  • No-fault evictions more than doubled from Aug – Dec 2021 compared to Aug – Dec 2019, threatening to displace tenants who have few options in a tight rental market.
  • H.B. 5233 expands Good Cause protections to all renters living in buildings with five or more units, allowing residents to enjoy housing security and establish roots in their communities.

Landlords Are Protected Under H.B. 5233

  • H.B. 5233 continues to allow landlords to evict tenants where there is good cause to bring an eviction, such as not paying rent, violating the lease, or refusing to agree to a reasonable rent increase.
  • H.B. 5233 only applies to tenants living in buildings with five or more units, meaning most “mom and pop” landlords aren’t affected.

Good Cause Protects Renters from Discrimination

  • No-fault evictions are often motivated by illegal race, family status, disability, or other forms of discrimination, but it is difficult for renters to prove a no-fault eviction is discriminatory.
  • Many tenants with discrimination and retaliation defenses to eviction leave their homes before a no-fault eviction is filed to avoid eviction blacklisting.
  • People of color and women are disproportionately impacted by eviction – Black and Latinx renters in Connecticut are 2-3 times more likely to be evicted than white renters.
  • Expanding Good Cause protections reduces unnecessary evictions and mitigates their discriminatory harms.

Good Cause Helps Tenants Assert Their Rights to Safe Housing

  • Unscrupulous landlords threaten to file no-cause evictions against renters who speak up about problems, such as unsafe living conditions or discrimination.
  • Good Cause ensures tenants can assert their rights without fearing that a retaliatory eviction will force them from their homes and permanently damage their records.

How Can I Help Expand Good Cause Eviction Protections?

Contact your State Representative and Senator and ask them to support H.B. 5233. You can find their contact information here and use the template here.

Expanded Fair Rent Commissions

H.B. 5205 C.G.A 2022

Expand Fair Rent Commissions (H.B. 5205)

Rents Are Skyrocketing, and Tenants are Threatened with Displacement

•   Statewide, average rents increased 12% in the last 18 months and nearly 20% in the last year in some metropolitan areas, and rental vacancy rates are down.

•   Tenants across the state report receiving rental increases of 20% or more, often hundreds of dollars a month, for rundown apartments with code violations.

•   Lapse of time (no fault) evictions nearly doubled in 2021 compared to 2019, threatening to displace tenants who have few options in a tight rental market.

Fair Rent Commissions Let Tenants Challenge Unjustified Rent Increases

•   Fair Rent Commissions are municipal boards of volunteers that are empowered to (1) stop an unconscionable rent increase and reduce such rent to a fair level, (2) phase-in a rent increase, or (3) delay a rent increase until housing code violations are fixed.

•   The Fair Rent Commission law has existed for 50+ years. About two dozen Connecticut towns and cities have Fair Rent Commissions, which require minimal overhead, but cities like Waterbury, Middletown, New London, Meriden, and Norwich still don’t have them.

•   HB 5205, as amended, requires Fair Rent Commissions in cities and towns with populations of 25,000 or more, ensuring tenants in large and mid-size towns are equally protected from unjustified rent increases. It does not affect smaller towns.

•  State law sets (1) the standard for limiting rent (an increase or rental amount that is “so excessive… as  to  be harsh  and  unconscionable” C.G.S. § 7-148c) and (2) the factors the commission looks at in determining whether the increase is excessive (including the landlord’s costs, the apartment’s condition, and the rent for similar units).

Fair Rent Commission Process in Practice

•   A  Fair  Rent  Commission  isn’t  rent  control  —it only provides relief to tenants facing unconscionable rent increases who submit complaints and doesn’t regulate the market as a whole.

•   Municipalities have flexibility to decide the make-up of the commission (like the number of commissioners; the mixture of landlords, tenants, and homeowners; the appointment process; and the frequency of meetings.

•  Most cities and towns don’t have dedicated staff for Fair Rent Commissions, and the overhead is minimal.

•  A town clerk or a fair housing, social services, housing code, or other municipal employee typically accepts the complaints and acts as a liaison.

•  Most municipalities try to informally mediate between the landlord and tenant. Many complaints end in an agreement, like a smaller rent increase or a phase-in over time.

How Can I Help Ensure All Renters in CT’s Largest Towns and Cities May Challenge Unreasonable Rent Increases?

Contact your State Representative and Senator and ask them to support H.B. 5205. You can find their contact information here and use the template here.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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

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

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

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

Eviction and foreclosure by the numbers

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

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

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

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

Evictions

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

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

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

Foreclosures

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

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

Wolcott to Pay Group Home Providers $350,000 to Settle Housing Discrimination Case

For press comment please contact Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens, finn at ctfairhousing.org

A lawsuit brought by the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, on behalf of SELF, Inc, and L&R Realty has cleared the way for a group home for thirteen people with disabilities to open in the Town of Wolcott. The case was filed in 2020 to challenge the Town’s 2016 denial of zoning approval for the home. The Town denied the home a permit, because of discriminatory statements of neighbors and members of the planning and zoning commission. The consent decree settling the case requires the Town to grant zoning approval for SELF’s group home, adopt a new reasonable accommodation policy, modify its zoning ordinances for group homes, and pay $350,000 to the group home developer L&R Realty. It will also pay $10,000 to the United States, a co-plaintiff in the case.

SELF, Inc. provides supportive housing for adults with mental health disabilities. In 2015, SELF tried to relocate its program from Waterbury to Wolcott so residents could live in a lower density residential sitting. Working with co-plaintiff L&R Realty, a Wolcott-based property developer, they identified a vacant property that had been used as a group home for adolescent girls. Despite receiving initial assurances that they would be able to operate, the Town Zoning Commission denied the plaintiffs’ permit application – after L&R made significant investments renovating the property. The denial came after public opposition to the plan because the home’s residents would be disabled. Even the Town Zoning Commission members made statements at the hearings about the residents such as “Are they aggressive?” and “without being insensitive, you said they have mental health issues.  Are they – is there anybody dangerous or –.”

While the application was pending, the Town amended its zoning ordinances to make it essentially impossible to operate a group home for adults within its border. After the zoning denial, the Town ignored the plaintiffs’ request to allow them to operate as a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing and Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Center’s Legal Director Greg Kirschner noted “SELF’s clients should not have had to wait this long to move to Wolcott. The Fair Housing Act guarantees the right of people with disabilities to live in housing of their choice. Towns and cities must ensure that they welcome all people regardless of their disability status.”

Plaintiffs filed suit in 2020 and were joined by the Department of Justice after the federal government conducted an investigation. Greg Kirschner and Staff Attorney David Lavery litigated the case for the Center with Stephen Dane of Dane Law, LLC a law firm specializing in discrimination cases.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Despite increases in the COVID positivity rate and hospitalizations, and despite the continuation of Executive 12D, monthly eviction cases are climbing and have already exceeded the total number of filings in 2020. The number of new cases continues to climb even as landlords are being paid for rent accrued during the pandemic.

Tenants report that landlords are collecting funds from UniteCT and then filing new evictions because leases have expired – a basis called “lapse of time.” Court records show that filings for lapse of time have increased by 85% in 2021 compared to the same time period in 2019. This suggests that the federal rental assistance is not meeting its purpose of keeping vulnerable tenants in their homes; instead landlords are being compensated but tenants are still forced to move. As can be seen below, the effects of the pandemic continue to disproportionately harm people of color.

The Center will be ending its pandemic updates on Friday, December 3, 2021 with a look back at the more than 100 updates we sent during this time. Thank you for your attention to the issues we have raised. We may resume these updates if the need arises.

Eviction and foreclosure by the numbers

2021 eviction filings exceed number filed in 2020—From January 1 to December 31, 2020, landlords filed a total of 6,430 summary process eviction cases. Through October 27, 2021, landlords have filed 7,716. In addition, Connecticut courts have already issued more executions in 2021 (2,969) than in all of 2020 (2,193). Once an execution is issued, a marshal can serve the tenant with a notice that they must move out within 24 hours.

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

Similar disparities exist for homeowners. In Connecticut, 61,685 households are not caught up on their mortgage payments. Of those, 8.6% are Black, 11.7% are mixed race, and 4.2% are Latinx compared to 5.4% of white homeowners.

Evictions

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

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

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

Update on UniteCT

  • UniteCT has been working with Eversource and United Illuminating to pay the electric arrearages for tenants who have been approved for assistance. UniteCT is in negotiations with some of the smaller electric companies to make similar payments. These are one-time payments and cannot be used for future electrical bills. UniteCT does not pay for gas utilities.
  • Once an application is fully completed by a landlord and a tenant, it takes about 30 days for the landlord to be paid.
  • There is a link the UniteCT website that allows people to get information on the status of their application or to get additional help if the tenant is now facing eviction or has made an error on their application. The link is: https://unitectprescreen.formstack.com/forms/unitect_referral_system 
  • The call center reached at 1-844-864-8328 is only for password resets and finding a tenant resource center. It cannot assist with any problems a landlord or tenant is having filling out an application or uploading documents.

Foreclosures

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

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

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

A new report released by Public Policy Polling out of North Carolina reveals that 52% of Connecticut residents believe that Connecticut’s racial and socio-economic divide is contributing to Connecticut’s economic challenges. The signs of the economic challenges caused by Connecticut’s racial and socio-economic segregation are everywhere. Homeowners and wealth among people who are Black are at a historic 50-year lows with just over 40% of Blacks owning their homes compared to 76% of whites. In addition, only 7,500 tenants who are white report being behind on the rent compared to 43,000 tenants of color.

Connecticut residents are not the only ones recognizing the negative impact of racial and economic segregation. In 2020, the American Medical Association officially recognized the connection between segregation and health when it committed to opposing policies that enable racial housing segregation and to advocating for continued federal funding of publicly-accessible data on community racial, economic, and health disparities to help communities understand and address this issue.

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center and our partners will be presenting information on the extent of segregation in Connecticut as well as ways to combat the economic drain it is causing. Please join us at the Connecticut Affordable Housing Conference when we will present: “Does the Road to Integration Run Through Your Town?” on November 15 at 11:30 – 12:30; “Tenants’ Right to Legal Counsel in Eviction” on November 15 at 2:00 – 3:00; and, “Addressing the Racial Wealth Gap Through a More Equitable Homebuying System” on November 17 at 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

The Center’s next bi-weekly update will be published on Friday, November 12, 2021.

By the numbers

Evictions

Foreclosures

UniteCT bus schedule

UniteCT Update

Eviction and foreclosure by the numbers

2021 eviction filings exceed number filed in 2020—From January 1 to December 31, 2020, landlords filed a total of 6,430 summary process eviction cases. Through October 27, 2021, landlords have filed 6,894. In addition, Connecticut courts have already issued more executions in 2021 (2,744) than in all of 2020 (2,193). Once an execution is issued, a marshal can serve the tenant with a notice that they must move out within 24 hours.

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

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

Evictions

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

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

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

Update on UniteCT

  • UniteCT has been working with Eversource and United Illuminating to pay the electric arrearages for tenants who have been approved for assistance. UniteCT is in negotiations with some of the smaller electric companies to make similar payments. These are one-time payments and cannot be used for future electrical bills. UniteCT does not pay for gas utilities.
  • Once an application is fully completed by a landlord and a tenant, it takes about 30 days for the landlord to be paid.
  • There is a program on the UniteCT website that allows people to get information on the status of their application or to get additional help if the tenant is now facing eviction or has made an error on their application. The link is: https://unitectprescreen.formstack.com/forms/unitect_referral_system 
  • The call center reached at 1-844-864-8328 is only for password resets and finding a tenant resource center. It cannot assist with any problems a landlord or tenant is having filling out an application or uploading documents.

UniteCT Tech bus schedule

The UniteCT bus will not be functioning after November 22, 2021. It will be up and running again when the weather gets better in the spring of 2022.

Hamden

Date:                 October 31, 1pm – 4pm

Address:           Mt. Calvary Revival Center, 450 West Todd Street, Hamden, CT
Contact:           Nicqueva, Nicqueva7@gmail.com, 203-785-1253

Hartford

Date:                 November 1, 10am – 3pm

Address:          The Artists Collective, 1200 Albany Avenue, Hartford
Contact:           Janice Castle, Janice.Castle@hartford.gov, 860-757-9525

Westbrook

Date:                 November 4, 10am – 3pm

Address:           Westbrook Town Hall, 866 Boston Post Road, Westbrook
Contact:          
Elizabeth Carpenter, ecarpenter@westbrookct.us, 860- 399-3090

Greenwich

Date:                 November 5, 10am – 3pm

Address:          101 Field Point Road, Greenwich, CT
Contact:           Demetria Nelson, Demetria.Nelson@greenwichct.org, 203-622-7782

Wallingford

Date:                 November 9, 10am – 3pm

Address:          Wallingford Public Library, 200 North Main Street, Wallingford, CT
Contact:           Leah Farrell, lfarrell@wallingfordlibrary.org, 203-284-6425

Waterbury

Date:                 November 17, 10am – 3pm

Address:          Grace Baptist Church, 65 Kingsbury St., Waterbury, CT 
Contact:           Fernando Cerdena, fcerdena@nhswaterbury.org, 475-441-0490

Foreclosures

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

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

DISCRIMINATORY ACTIONS BY TOWN OFFICIALS WILL COST CROMWELL $5 MILLON

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

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

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

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

Erin kemple, Executive Director for the Connecticut Fair Housing Center

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

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

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

This week, Connecticut’s House of Representatives and Senate extended Governor Lamont’s emergency powers through February 15, 2022. Governor Lamont then used his emergency powers to extend E.O. 12D—which requires landlords to complete an application for UniteCT before starting an eviction case for nonpayment, give a 30-day notice to quit for most types of evictions, and in other ways protects tenants from immediate eviction—through February 15, 2022.

The extension of E.O. 12D will keep some tenants in their housing while their landlords get paid. However, with 1,046 filings so far, September 2021 now has the highest number of residential eviction filings since March 2020 (March 2020 had 1,249 and February 2020 had 1,469). In addition, some landlords are avoiding the E.O. 12D requirement that they must apply for UniteCT before bringing a case for nonpayment by instead bringing cases for “lapse of time” (the term of the lease has ended).

These filing numbers do not include the people losing their homes to foreclosure. As the end nears for mortgage deferrals that were put in place in early 2020, thousands of homeowners in Connecticut are facing a multi-thousand dollar bill as paused mortgage payments come due. The concern for Connecticut is greater than elsewhere because, for years leading up to the pandemic, the state’s 90-day delinquency rate, the percent of consumers in Connecticut with mortgages 90 days or more past due, was the second-worst in the country and roughly double the national average, according to an analysis of data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The pandemic has made visible what used to be invisible to all but a few people. Families are losing their homes. The fact that they are not losing their homes in historically large numbers is not something to celebrate. Our communities are at risk and the number of people who will be with housing and in homeless shelters will grow. The extension of E.O. 12D, the UniteCT program, the opening of the Homeowners Assistance Fund, and the continued availability of mortgage forbearances is not enough. Landlords, mortgage servicers, and others involved in providing housing must recognize the crisis Connecticut residents face and be part of the solution.

Call to action

Cross Cultural Symposium

Eviction and foreclosure numbers

EO 12D explanation

Foreclosures

Utilities

Sign up to receive this bi-weekly update—The Center’s weekly update has been on hiatus while Center staff worked on other projects. This update will now be published every two weeks with the next issue coming out on Friday, October 15, 2021.

Eviction and foreclosure by the numbers

2021 eviction filings exceed number filed in 2020—From January 1 to  September 30, 2020, landlords filed a total of 5,106 summary process eviction cases. To date, in 2021, landlords have filed 6,045. In addition, Connecticut courts have already issued more executions in 2021 (2,455) than in all of 2020 (2,196). Once an execution is issued, a marshal can serve the tenant with a notice that they must move out within 24 hours.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 38% of Latinx renters, 44% of Asian renters, and 66% of people of two or more races are not caught up on rent compared to 1% of white renters. In addition, 44% of Latinx renters and 92% of renters of two or more races have little or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 24% of white renters.

For homeowners, 21% of Latinx homeowners and 25% of Black homeowners are not caught up on their mortgage payments compared to 5% of white homeowners. In addition, 12% of Latinx homeowners and 50% of Black homeowners have little or no confidence in their ability to pay their mortgage next month compared to 5% of white homeowners.

What does EO 12D do:

E.O. 12D which will expire on February 15, 2022 includes the following provisions:

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

Visit www.CTFairHousing.org/eviction for more information on what steps tenants can take to respond to eviction papers and access EO12D’s protections.

Call to action: Extension of E.O. 12D is a good beginning. However, the Center calls on the Governor, municipalities, the Connecticut Attorney General, the Judicial Branch, and housing authorities to do the following:

  • Executive Order 12D must be modified to include the following improvements . The order must:
  • Require all landlords with pending eviction cases to apply for UniteCT funds for any rental arrearage and withdraw the case if the application is approved;
    • Automatically stay eviction cases and executions if a tenant or landlord applies for UniteCT (rather than waiting for the UniteCT applicant to affirmatively request a stay);
    • Stay eviction cases and executions until the UniteCT application is fully processed and any payment is made (rather than a maximum of 30 days);
    • Extend General Statutes Sec. 47a-23c’s prohibition on evictions except for good cause to all tenants for the duration of the executive order.
  • The Connecticut Attorney General must clarify that a refusal to accept UniteCT is unlawful source of income discrimination and that failure to submit a complete UniteCT application prior to starting an eviction case for non-payment is also in violation of the EO; 
  • The CT Judicial Branch must hold a hearing before an execution issues for any case other than serious nuisance can issue. This is a last check to see if the tenant might qualify for UniteCT and avoid losing their home.
  • Municipalities should mandate that all landlords operating in the town/city must participate in and accept UniteCT money, and state that a refusal to do so is unlawful source of income discrimination and that failure to submit a complete UniteCT application prior to starting an eviction case is also in violation of the EO. 
  • Housing Authorities must stay all evictions and executions. 

Foreclosures

There are no moratoriums in place for foreclosures. This means that any mortgage lender can file a foreclosure unless the homeowner is in forbearance.

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

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

Utilities

Shutoff moratorium ending for some utility customers — At 18-month moratorium that stopped gas, electric, and water shutoffs for nonpayment ended on September 15, 2021. However, service will not be shutoff if the customer has a financial hardship. To notify Eversource about a financial hardship and to request help, call 800-286-2828 (electric) or 800-438-2278 or go to www.eversource.com.  To notify Connecticut Natural Gas about a financial hardship, call 860-727-3555. To apply for assistance to pay your utilities, go to https://portal.ct.gov/DSS/Economic-Security/Winter-Heating-Assistance/Energy-Assistance—Winter-Heating/Apply to find the nearest agency who can assist you.

Data with Dignity: People Behind the Numbers:  This year’s Cross-Cultural Communications Symposium will examine the role data play in determining which communities get services, how race and culture concerns can be subjugated by numbers, how racial policies that have existed for decades are often rooted in analytical prejudice and bias, and why the analyses of data is often unexamined. We will also look at how vulnerable communities are further marginalized by a lack of access to culturally appropriate health, safety, and accessibility information. The event is being held in-person on October 22, 2021 from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm. Masks are required as well as proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of attendance.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The eviction tsunami is on the horizon. The holiday-shortened week of September 7, 2021 saw 246 new residential evictions filed, more than at any time since the week of March 16, 2020 (264 filings) – and filings this week are on pace to eclipse that number. These figures, which approach pre-pandemic filing rates, call into question the sufficiency of the protections currently in place, and illustrate that the expirations of state and federal eviction moratoria are leaving renters out to dry. 

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center calls on Governor Lamont and lawmakers to take immediate action to stop the worsening eviction crisis.

Call to action

Eviction and foreclosure numbers

Evictions

Foreclosures

More Center work

Utilities

Sign up to receive this bi-weekly update—This update will now be published every two weeks with the next issue coming out on Friday, October 1, 2021.

Eviction and foreclosure by the numbers

2021 eviction filings exceed number filed in 2020—By September 30, 2020, landlords filed a total of 5,106 eviction cases. To date in 2021, landlords have filed 5,559 cases. In addition, the courts have issued 2,319 executions so far in 2021 compared to 2,198 issued during all of 2020. Once an execution is issued, a marshal may physically remove the tenant and their belongings after providing 24 hours’ notice.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 28% of Latinx renters and 41% of Asian renters are not caught up on rent compared to only 6.5% of white renters who report not being caught up on rent. The survey also reports that 40% of Latinx renters and 32% of Black renters have little or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 11% of white renters.

Homeowners are still reporting being behind on their mortgage. The survey reports that 17.8% of Latinx homeowners and 17.2% of Black homeowners are not caught up on their mortgage payments compared to 2% of white homeowners.

Evictions:

Connecticut Executive Orders

Connecticut’s Eviction Moratorium expired June 30, 2021. However, Governor Lamont has issued E.O. 12D, which was extended to September 30, 2021 by E.O. 13, and includes the following provisions:

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

To implement E.O. 12D, the Judicial Branch has instructed its Housing Court Clerks to review all residential non-payment notices to quit served between July 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021:

  • For the required UniteCT case number. Cases with defective notices to quit will be referred to the housing judge for dismissal or other action the judge deems appropriate;
  • To ensure that any notice has a quit date at least 30 days from the service date unless the notice is solely for serious nuisance;
  • To ensure that the notices were delivered with an English and a Spanish copy of the State of Connecticut’s UniteCT Flyer.

In addition, the Housing Court Clerks have been told:

  • If they are notified of a pending UniteCT application prior to a summary process execution issuing, to ask the notifying party(s) to submit a written notification of the UniteCT application to the court for the judge’s review and entry of an order staying the proceedings. Clerks will not stop the application for an execution if the case is based solely on serious nuisance.
  • If an execution has already issued, the clerk is to notify the parties that if the tenant wants to stop the move out based on a UniteCT application, the tenant must present at an application for temporary injunction (audita querela) to the court.

Call to action:

  • The Connecticut Legislature must come into emergency session to extend the Governor’s emergency authority with regard to evictions. According to the latest Household Pulse Survey, 45,000 Connecticut residents were not caught up on rent as of August 16, 2021 while 157,000 had little or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month. Of the 45,000 not caught up on rent, 36,000 had not yet applied for rental assistance. Executive Order 12D has resulted in an increase in the numbers of landlords and tenants applying for UniteCT. However, the pace of eviction case filings is rising and tenants are being removed from their homes for not paying rent when over $338 million dollars of UniteCT assistance has not yet been spent. 
  • Governor Lamont must extend and improve Executive Order 12D . The order must: 
  • Require all landlords to apply for UniteCT and receive a denial before serving a Notice to Quit for nonpayment of rent; 
  • Require that all Notices to Quit for nonpayment of rent, lapse of time, and no right or privilege provide at least 60 days to quit possession and 60 days to cure any nonpayment of rent; 
  • Require all landlords with pending eviction cases for nonpayment of rent to apply for UniteCT (which includes submitting all required documentation and withdrawing the case upon receipt of UniteCT assistance) before an execution will issue; 
  • Automatically stay eviction cases when a UniteCT application is made and until a payment is made or the application is denied; 
  • Clarify that LLs must participate in or accept UniteCT, and that a refusal to do so is illegal discrimination based against a lawful source of income and that failure to submit a complete UniteCT application prior to starting an eviction case is also in violation of the EO;  
  • Remain in effect for the duration of the pandemic. 

The CT Judicial Branch must require courts to hold a hearing before an execution issues for any eviction case other than serious nuisance. This is a critical last check to see if a UniteCT application has been submitted and if the landlord has received UniteCT assistance. Since the end of the federal CDC moratorium, the Branch has stopped requiring courts to hold such automatic hearings before allowing executions to issue. 

Foreclosures

There are no moratoria in place for foreclosures. This means that any mortgage lender can file a foreclosure unless the homeowner is in forbearance. It also means that, as has been the case throughout the pandemic, municipalities, condo associations, and tax lien purchasers can pursue foreclosure actions.

Ability to request a forbearance ends September 30, 2021 for some homeowners—Homeowners with FHA, VA, or USDA have until September 30, 2021 to request a forbearance if they are having difficulties paying their mortgage. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have not yet announced a deadline to request a forbearance.

A recent report shows that as many as 400,000 homeowners around the country will reach the end of their forbearance eligibility this month. This means lenders and loan servicers will be able to proceed with foreclosure if they do not offer a workout to these homeowners. Currently an estimated 1.71 million borrowers are in forbearance.

Utilities

Shutoff moratorium ending for some utility customers—At 18-month moratorium that stopped gas, electric, and water shutoffs for nonpayment ended on September 15, 2021. However, service will not be shutoff if the customer has a financial hardship. To notify Eversource about a financial hardship and to request help, call 800-286-2828 (electric) or 800-438-2278 or go to www.eversource.com.  To notify Connecticut Natural Gas about a financial hardship, call 860-727-3555. To apply for assistance to pay your utilities, go to https://portal.ct.gov/DSS/Economic-Security/Winter-Heating-Assistance/Energy-Assistance—Winter-Heating/Apply to find the nearest agency who can assist you.

For more information about the work of the Center

On September 20, 2021 Executive Director, Erin Kemple, will be speaking at the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s weekly discussion about how to advance long-term solutions to end the housing crisis and achieve housing justice. Erin will be discussing the fair housing implications of the eviction crisis and the Center’s work assisting tenants during the pandemic.

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