ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

February 26, 2021

Evictions are a racial justice issue. Black and Latinx families are twice as likely to have evictions filed against them as white families. The Center is working with tenants and advocates to ensure that tenants are represented when they are in danger of losing their homes to eviction. Please join us.

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

  • Landlords have filed 3,863 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 1,063 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.
  • Tenants who have eviction cases filed against them or whose landlords have obtained executions are in danger of losing their homes and are at greater risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus.

What’s happened since February 18, 2021:

Hearing Scheduled on Right to Counsel and Eviction Record Sealing Bills: On Thursday, March 4 at 11 a.m., the Housing Committee of the Connecticut Legislature will hold a remote public hearing on HB 6531, a bill that would guarantee the right to no-cost legal counsel to most residential tenants facing eviction proceedings, and on HB 6528, a bill that would seal eviction records. Interested in testifying? Sign up to get a copy of the Connecticut Right to Counsel testimony guide, register for a public testimony teach-in on Tuesday, March 2 at 6 p.m., and find more resources here.

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.

Utilities seek permission to resume shut-offs:  Eversource and United Illuminating have requested permission to end a shut-off moratorium that gave relief to customers during the COVID pandemic. Lamont along with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it’s too early to resume shut-offs. The state is also asking the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to consider extending repayment terms past 24-months for the COVID repayment plan. In its request to resume shut-offs, Eversource said it would send affected customers a transition letter and email that will remind them of COVID-19 payment plans, hardship protections, and any programs for which they may be eligible. Customers who enroll in a COVID-19 payment program can pay their past-due bills over a 24-month period without risk of having their utilities shut off. PURA has not indicated when it will rule on the requests.

Racial segregation in Connecticut is no accident:  Homeowners in West Hartford and other Connecticut communities have opposed multifamily housing for years. In a hearing before the Legislature’s Housing Committee on February 18, residents from Fairfield County and elsewhere made clear that their opposition to changes in zoning laws and local control over where affordable housing was located was due to who would live in the housing. Using coded language about affordable housing destroying the character of the community or making towns look like urban areas, legislators and community residents spoke out in opposition to any proposed legislation that would open white suburbs to people of color. As set out in a recent Hartford Courant article, local control and consideration of the character of the community has led to the extreme segregation seen in Connecticut today. The current legislative session offers one more opportunity to change these patterns.

HUD scrutinizes Connecticut’s laws to determine if they permit housing discrimination: When President Joe Biden took office, his administration inherited an unresolved complaint and lawsuit that civil rights attorneys filed last fall, charging that Connecticut’s housing laws which leave most decisions to local officials are harmful to Black and Latinx residents. Now, while U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Justice determine if the state is violating federal fair housing laws by limiting where Section 8 housing vouchers can be used and where affordable housing can be developed state lawmakers for the fourth consecutive year are considering whether to tackle the issue before the federal government decides whether to step in.

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: At present, Connecticut residents 65 and over qualify to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Below is a table of eligibility for all Connecticut residents to receive a vaccine.

AgeEligible for vaccination
Ages 65 and olderNow
Ages 55 and older as well as school employeesMarch 1
Ages 45 – 54March 22
Ages 35 – 44April 12
Ages 16 – 34May 3

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).

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.

EVICTIONS

Tenant move out stopped:  A Hartford family with two young children avoided losing their home in the middle of last week’s snowstorm after community activists connected the family to legal assistance and rallied to protest their eviction by a tax-delinquent, New York landlord. At a hearing in which the tenant was represented by a Center attorney, the parties agreed to give the family 30 days to find a new place to live.

Tenants buried in unfair fees and costs:  As tenants struggle to prevent eviction as the result of nonpayment of rent, landlords and their lawyers continue to charge fess and costs making it nearly impossible for tenants to stay housed. Fees and costs that prevent tenants from staying in their homes are prevalent across the country and routinely added to the cost of reinstating a tenancy in Connecticut.

State Rental Housing Assistance:  Although the Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program is closed, tenants who applied for assistance can get information about the status of their application for assistance or email their questions to trhapinfo@ct.gov. The Department of Housing is creating a new program to distribute $235 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds. Check the Department of Housing website for updates on when this new program, called UniteCT will open.

Connecticut eviction moratorium extended until April 20, 2021: Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 10A which extends the Connecticut eviction moratorium until April 20, 2021, the current expiration date of the public health emergency. Unfortunately, eviction moratoriums do not prevent rental arrears from accumulating without adequate rental assistance. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston estimates that tenants who lost jobs during the pandemic owe more than $11 billion in rental arrears, while Moody’s Analytics estimates $53 billion in rental arrears is owed.

New research suggests that increasing housing stability prevents COVID-related infections and deaths:  Research from Duke University found policies that limit evictions are found to reduce COVID-19 infections by 3.8% and reduce deaths by 11%. Moratoria on utility disconnections reduce COVID-19 infections by 4.4% and mortality rates by 7.4%. Had such policies been adopted as federal policy from early March 2020 through the end of November 2020, the researchers estimated that policies that limit evictions could have reduced COVID-19 infections by 14.2% and deaths by 40.7%. For moratoria on utility disconnections, COVID-19 infections rates could have been reduced by 8.7% and deaths by 14.8%. Housing precarity policies that prevent eviction and utility disconnections have been effective mechanisms for decreasing both COVID-19 infections and deaths.

As many as 161,000 Connecticut tenants at risk of eviction:  A report from Stout, Risius, Ross LLC using estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Pulse Survey, estimate that between 77,000 and 161,000 tenants in Connecticut are at risk of eviction and owe between $149 million and $274 million in back rent. In addition, January 2021 Pulse Data shows that 48% of people who are Latinx and 23% of people who are Black have little or no confidence that they will be able to pay the rent in February compared to only 12% of people who are white.

Tenants that have an eviction case filed against them as the result of loss of income due to COVID-19 can carry stigma for life: Even if a tenant scraped together money from family or friends or used their stimulus money to pay a rent arrearage, the stigma of an eviction filing will follow them long after the rent arrearage is paid off. It can stay on a person’s credit or tenant report for many years resulting in the loss of housing opportunities. In Connecticut, more people of color rent their homes when compared to whites meaning that this stigma will prevent a disproportionate number of people of color from obtaining desirable housing.

What should tenants know?

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

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

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, even if they qualify for the Connecticut eviction moratorium or gave a CDC eviction moratorium declaration to their landlord. 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.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

Connecticut is losing bank branches at more than twice the national rate: Over the last decade, the number of bank branches in the state has dropped by 201 locations, for an overall closure rate of 16 percent. The national closure rate over the same period was 6 percent. The recent announcement that PeoplesUnited is being acquired by M&T Bank Corporation increases the likelihood that bank branches will continue to close. A preliminary analysis of the proposed branch closures reveals that branches in communities of color or communities adjacent to neighborhoods of color will be closed at higher numbers than those in communities that are majority white.

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.

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.

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

Foreclosure mediations starting up again. The Judicial Branch announced today, February 25, that it was resuming foreclosure mediation sessions for eligible mortgage foreclosures. See here for more details.

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

What should homeowners do?

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

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

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

February 19, 2021 

The economic stimulus package passed by Congress at the end of 2020, gives Connecticut more than $200 million to use for rental assistance for tenants who have been unable to pay their rent as the result of the ongoing pandemic. The State must ensure that the newest program is available to everyone including tenants of color, tenants with disabilities, and tenants with limited English proficiency. The Center is working to ensure that all of Connecticut’s residents have equal access to safe, affordable housing. Please join us.  

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

  • Landlords have filed 3,688 new summary process (eviction) cases in court. 
  • Courts have issued 1,035 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. 
  • Tenants who have eviction cases filed against them or whose landlords have obtained executions are in danger of losing their homes and are at greater risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus. 

What’s happened since February 11, 2021: 

Federal extension of the foreclosure moratorium:  The Biden administration announced that it has extended both the COVID foreclosure moratorium and the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window through June 30, 2021 for FHA, VA, and USDA loans. This extension will also provide up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance for those who qualify. A similar announcement from FHFA is expected in the next few weeks. 

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

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: At present, Connecticut residents 65 and over qualify to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Appointments can be made on-line or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare) or 860-679-4400 (UConn Health) or (877) 918-2224 (the state vaccine system).  

EVICTIONS 

Connecticut eviction moratorium extended until April 20, 2021: Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 10A which extends the Connecticut eviction moratorium until April 20, 2021, the current expiration date of the public health emergency. Unfortunately, eviction moratoriums do not prevent rental arrears from accumulating without adequate rental assistance. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston estimates that tenants who lost jobs during the pandemic owe more than $11 billion in rental arrears, while Moody’s Analytics estimates $53 billion in rental arrears is owed. 

State Rental Housing Assistance:  Although the Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program is closed, tenants who applied for assistance can get information about the status of their application for assistance or email their questions to trhapinfo@ct.gov. The Department of Housing is creating a new program to distribute $235 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds. Check the Department of Housing website on February 19, 2020 for updates on when this new program will open. 

New research suggests that increasing housing stability prevents COVID-related infections and deaths:  Research from Duke University found policies that limit evictions are found to reduce COVID-19 infections by 3.8% and reduce deaths by 11%. Moratoria on utility disconnections reduce COVID-19 infections by 4.4% and mortality rates by 7.4%. Had such policies been adopted as federal policy from early March 2020 through the end of November 2020, the researchers estimated that policies that limit evictions could have reduced COVID-19 infections by 14.2% and deaths by 40.7%. For moratoria on utility disconnections, COVID-19 infections rates could have been reduced by 8.7% and deaths by 14.8%. Housing precarity policies that prevent eviction and utility disconnections have been effective mechanisms for decreasing both COVID-19 infections and deaths. 

As many as 161,000 Connecticut tenants at risk of eviction:  A report from Stout, Risius, Ross LLC using estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Pulse Survey, estimate that between 77,000 and 161,000 tenants in Connecticut are at risk of eviction and owe between $149 million and $274 million in back rent. In addition, January 2021 Pulse Data shows that 48% of people who are Latinx and 23% of people who are Black have little or no confidence that they will be able to pay the rent in February compared to only 12% of people who are white.  

Tenants that have an eviction case filed against them as the result of loss of income due to COVID-19 can carry stigma for life: Even if a tenant scraped together money from family or friends or used their stimulus money to pay a rent arrearage, the stigma of an eviction filing will follow them long after the rent arrearage is paid off. It can stay on a person’s credit or tenant report for many years resulting in the loss of housing opportunities. In Connecticut, more people of color rent their homes when compared to whites meaning that this stigma will prevent a disproportionate number of people of color from obtaining desirable housing.  

What should tenants know? 

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

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

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, even if they qualify for the Connecticut eviction moratorium or gave a CDC eviction moratorium declaration to their landlord. 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.  

Connecticut Right to Counsel: In late December, a petition was launched that calls on Connecticut legislators to pass Right to Counsel legislation guaranteeing the right to no-cost legal counsel to all residential tenants facing eviction proceedings. The petition has received more than 970 signatures and 40 organizational endorsements. Learn more about how you can get involved in the campaign and sign the petition

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

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE 

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.  

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. 

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

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

What should homeowners do? 

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

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

Outreach: 

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:  

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

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

Sign up to receive this weekly update. 

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

February 12, 2021 

Sign up to receive this weekly update. 

People forced out of their homes by eviction or foreclosure must turn to over-crowded conditions with friends or family or in the shelter system. This will inevitably lead to an increase in COVID-19 infections as new, more contagious, and more deadly variants of the virus spread. The Center is working to ensure that all of Connecticut’s residents have equal access to safe, affordable housing. Please join us.  

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

  • Landlords have filed 3,545 new summary process (eviction) cases in court. 
  • Courts have issued 987 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. 
  • Tenants who have eviction cases filed against them or whose landlords have obtained executions are in danger of losing their homes and are at greater risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus. 

What’s happened since February 4, 2021: 

Connecticut eviction moratorium extended until April 20, 2021: Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 10A which extends the Connecticut eviction moratorium until April 20, 2021, the current expiration date of the public health emergency. Unfortunately, eviction moratoriums do not prevent rental arrears from accumulating without adequate rental assistance. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston estimates that tenants who lost jobs during the pandemic owe more than $11 billion in rental arrears, while Moody’s Analytics estimates $53 billion in rental arrears is owed. 

HUD working to eradicate housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity:  On February 11, 2021, HUD announced that it will administer and enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. HUD’s new initiative begins implementation of Executive Order 13988 which directed all executive branch agencies to take further steps to combat such discrimination. Among other things, HUD’s newly issued memorandum permits people who have experienced housing discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation to file complaints with HUD for investigation and resolution. 

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: At present, Connecticut residents 65 and over qualify to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Appointments can be made on-line or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare) or 860-679-4400 (UConn Health) or (877) 918-2224 (the state vaccine system).  

New research suggests that increasing housing stability prevents COVID-related infections and deaths:  Research from Duke University found policies that limit evictions are found to reduce COVID-19 infections by 3.8% and reduce deaths by 11%. Moratoria on utility disconnections reduce COVID-19 infections by 4.4% and mortality rates by 7.4%. Had such policies been adopted as federal policy from early March 2020 through the end of November 2020, the researchers estimated that policies that limit evictions could have reduced COVID-19 infections by 14.2% and deaths by 40.7%. For moratoria on utility disconnections, COVID-19 infections rates could have been reduced by 8.7% and deaths by 14.8%. Housing precarity policies that prevent eviction and utility disconnections have been effective mechanisms for decreasing both COVID-19 infections and deaths. 

Hearing scheduled to repeal Connecticut’s “poverty tax”:  H.B. 6416 will have a public hearing before the legislature’s Human Services Committee on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. If passed, this bill will repeal Connecticut’s inequitable poverty tax which requires the Department of Social Services to impose liens when a resident receives state assistance. Connecticut has one of the strictest welfare lien laws in the country and is one of only two states to still require the liens. The public is welcome to listen to the hearing or testify on this bill.  

EVICTIONS 

State Rental Housing Assistance:  Although the Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program is closed, tenants who applied for assistance can get information about the status of their application for assistance or email their questions to trhapinfo@ct.gov. The Department of Housing is creating a new program to distribute $235 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds. Check the Department of Housing website for updates on when this new program will open. 

Student gives mother her college money to pay the rent: A Houston landlord locked a family out of their home because they owed more than $2,000 in rent even though such lock outs are prohibited by federal and state law. To ensure that her family had a place to live, a high school senior used the money she had saved to pay for college to get her family back into their apartment. The problems faced by this family highlights the impossible choices millions of Americans have faced after losing their income amid the pandemic. While the federal CDC moratorium is supposed to prevent evictions through March, advocates say many seniors, immigrants and other vulnerable groups are unaware of the CDC moratorium, or do not qualify for its protection due to loopholes in the order. According to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, nearly 246,000 evictions have been filed by landlords during the pandemic, including tens of thousands with the moratorium in place. 

As many as 161,000 Connecticut tenants at risk of eviction:  A report from Stout, Risius, Ross LLC using estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Pulse Survey, estimate that between 77,000 and 161,000 tenants in Connecticut are at risk of eviction and owe between $149 million and $274 million in back rent. In addition, January 2021 Pulse Data shows that 48% of people who are Latinx and 23% of people who are Black have little or no confidence that they will be able to pay the rent in February compared to only 12% of people who are white.  

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

Tenants that have an eviction case filed against them as the result of loss of income due to COVID-19 can carry stigma for life: Even if a tenant scraped together money from family or friends or used their stimulus money to pay a rent arrearage, the stigma of an eviction filing will follow them long after the rent arrearage is paid off. It can stay on a person’s credit or tenant report for many years resulting in the loss of housing opportunities. In Connecticut, more people of color rent their homes when compared to whites meaning that this stigma will prevent a disproportionate number of people of color from obtaining desirable housing.  

What should tenants know? 

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

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

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, even if they qualify for the Connecticut eviction moratorium or gave a CDC eviction moratorium declaration to their landlord. 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. 

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

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.  

Connecticut Right to Counsel: In late December, a petition was launched that calls on Connecticut legislators to pass Right to Counsel legislation guaranteeing the right to no-cost legal counsel to all residential tenants facing eviction proceedings. The petition has received more than 970 signatures and 40 organizational endorsements. Learn more about how you can get involved in the campaign and sign the petition

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE 

Homeowners need assistance: Congress is rapidly drafting the next COVID-19 relief and stimulus package, providing much needed support for food assistance, vaccinations, and renter and homelessness relief.  However, the proposed package does not include funding for a Housing Assistance Fund to provide direct payments to homeowners at risk of foreclosure. These resources are key elements of an equitable relief package that must be included in this round to avoid massive loss of wealth in communities of color. Advocates are calling on Congress to include a minimum of $75 billion for a Housing Assistance Fund. More than 10 million homeowners are behind on payments, and homeowners of color face a greater risk of losing their homes.  While many loans are in forbearance, of the 2.8 million borrowers in active forbearance as of the end of December, 25 percent were private-label loans with no guaranteed method of bringing their loan current at the end of forbearance.  Failure to provide targeted assistance to help homeowners become current on their mortgages will result in a massive drain of wealth from communities of color, many of which have not yet even recovered from the 2008 foreclosure crisis. Contact your Senator or Congressional representative to ask that $75 billion be included in the next stimulus package for homeowners affected by COVID-19 income loss. 

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.  

Mortgage forbearance requests extended to March 31, 2021Effective immediately, the deadline for single family borrowers with FHA-insured mortgages to request an initial COVID-19 forbearance from their mortgage servicer to defer or reduce their mortgage payments for up to six months is extended to through March 31, 2021. If needed, this forbearance can be extended for an additional six months. The deadline to request an initial extension period for HECM borrowers (a/k/a reverse mortgage borrowers) impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is also extended through March 31, 2021. 

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

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

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

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

What should homeowners do? 

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

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

Outreach: 

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:  

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

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

Sign up to receive this weekly update. 

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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

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

  • Landlords have filed 3,429 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 922 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.
  • Tenants who have eviction cases filed against them or whose landlords have obtained executions are in danger of losing their homes and at greater risk of contracting and/or spreading the coronavirus.

What’s happened since January 28, 2021:

New research again suggests that increasing housing stability prevents COVID-related infections and deaths: Research from Duke University found policies that limit evictions are found to reduce COVID-19 infections by 3.8% and reduce deaths by 11%. Moratoria on utility disconnections reduce COVID-19 infections by 4.4% and mortality rates by 7.4%. Had such policies been adopted as federal policy from early March 2020 through the end of November 2020, the researchers estimated that policies that limit evictions could have reduced COVID-19 infections by 14.2% and deaths by 40.7%. For moratoria on utility disconnections, COVID-19 infections rates could have been reduced by 8.7% and deaths by 14.8%. Housing precarity policies that prevent eviction and utility disconnections have been effective mechanisms for decreasing both COVID-19 infections and deaths.

10 million renters behind on rent nationwide:  According to Moody’s Analytics, as of late December 2020, more than 10 million renters were behind on their rent payments and at risk of being evicted. At more than one in six renters, that’s three times the typical rate. To put that into some perspective, approximately seven million households lost their homes in foreclosure during the five darkest years of the global financial crisis (2008-2012).  

Women lose more jobs than men as part of the pandemic:  A recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that employers cut 140,000 jobs in December 2020, and that women — specifically women of color —accounted for all of the job losses. Women lost 156,000 jobs, while men gained 16,000. Of the women losing jobs, Blacks and Latinas lost jobs, while White women made significant gains. In Connecticut, 176,000 women filed unemployment claims during the peak claim month of May 2020 compared to only 142,000 claims from men.

CT Data Collaborative releases Essential Equity website: Women, Covid-19, and Rebuilding CT data platform. Their analysis concludes that women of color are experiencing greater housing instability than any other group. Data shows that one in three females who reported their race or ethnicity as Black or other feel slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent or mortgage in the coming month, compared to one in seven white females.

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

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

EVICTIONS

As many as 161,000 Connecticut tenants at risk of eviction:  A report from Stout, Risius, Ross LLC using estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Pulse Survey, estimate that between 77,000 and 161,000 tenants in Connecticut are at risk of eviction and owe between $149 million and $274 million in back rent. In addition, January 2021 Pulse Data shows that 48% of people who are Latino and 23% of people who are Black have little or no confidence that they will be able to pay the rent in February compared to only 12% of people who are white.

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

The Connecticut eviction moratorium is scheduled to expire on Tuesday, February 9, 2021: Under Executive Order 9T, the Connecticut eviction moratorium expires February 9, 2021. At least through Feb. 9, 2021, landlords are only permitted to start an eviction case if a tenant:

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

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

c) created a serious nuisance; or

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

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

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

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

There is also an online platform available in English and Spanish that can help you sign the Declaration form electronically and email it to your landlord. If you already have an eviction case in court, you should also give copies of the declarations to the court.

Visit our website for a fact sheet on both the Connecticut and CDC eviction moratoriums.

Paying Rent: Tenants are still required to pay rent, even if they qualify for the Connecticut eviction moratorium or gave a CDC eviction moratorium declaration to their landlord. 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 bring and keep the total amount of rent you owe to 6 months of rent or less.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Connecticut Right to Counsel: In late December, a petition was launched by Central CT DSA that calls on Connecticut legislators to pass Right to Counsel legislation guaranteeing the right to no-cost legal counsel to all residential tenants facing eviction proceedings. The petition has received more than 900 signatures and 35 organizational endorsements, including from Connecticut Legal Services, Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, Connecticut AFL-CIO, Junta for Progressive Action, Make the Road CT, National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, and New Haven Legal Assistance Association. Read, sign, and share the petition here.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

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.

Mortgage forbearance requests extended to March 31, 2021Effective immediately, the deadline for single family borrowers with FHA-insured mortgages to request an initial COVID-19 forbearance from their mortgage servicer to defer or reduce their mortgage payments for up to six months is extended to through March 31, 2021,. If needed, this forbearance can be extended for an additional six months. The deadline to request an initial extension period for HECM borrowers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is also extended through March 31, 2021.

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

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

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

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

What should homeowners do?

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

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

UTILITIES

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

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

OUTREACH:

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

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

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

Addressing Clients’ Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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

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

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

Now I worry all the time like I never did before 

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s happened since January 21, 2021: 

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

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

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

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

EVICTIONS 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c) created a serious nuisance; or  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE 

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

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

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

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

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

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

What should homeowners do? 

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

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

UTILITIES 

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

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

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

Outreach: 

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

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:  

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

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

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

January 21, 2021

Cancellation of the executive order limiting the ability of federal grantors and others to hold diversity and inclusion trainings. Rescission of the 1776 Commission and the report issued on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day which lied about slavery and the effectiveness of the Civil Rights Movement. Removal of the “Muslim ban” which prevented people from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Imposing a 100-day pause in deportations and arrests. Reversing the directive to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census numbers used to reapportion each state’s share of congressional seats and Electoral College votes. Requiring federal employees and others inside government buildings and on federal lands to wear masks. These are just a few of the executive orders issued by President Biden on his first day in office.

Unfortunately, executive orders cannot change the minds of the white supremacists who rioted on January 6 or reverse the state laws and local actions which keep people of color confined to segregated neighborhoods from which they fear eviction and displacement. Our work toward overturning these actions and the policies which created them continues. Please join us.

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

  • Landlords have filed 3,095 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 861 executions—Once a court issues an execution order, the landlord can hire a state marshal to remove the tenant and their belongings from the unit.

What’s happened since January 14, 2021:

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

New report reveals the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women and girls in CT:  The Center provided data and analysis to Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund to be included in their report “Essential Equity: Women, COVID-19 and Rebuilding CT.” The Aurora Foundation is hosting a remote press conference, Thursday, January 28, to review critical findings in the report.

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: At present, Connecticut residents 75 and over qualify to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Appointments can be made on-line or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare) or 860-679-4400 (UConn Health) or (877) 918-2224 (the state vaccine system). For people who are not over the age of 65 or who do not have high-risk health conditions, it is still possible to register to receive notice when you become eligible for a vaccination.

EVICTIONS

New CDC director extends federal eviction moratorium until at least March 31, 2021:  Shortly after President Biden was sworn in, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control announced an extension of the federal eviction moratorium to March 31, 2021. The CDC director will also begin a process to get input in needed improvements including whether to extend the moratorium until June 30, 2021 as proposed in President Biden’s COVID-19 relief package. Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. To invoke the protection of the CDC moratorium, all the adults in the household must complete and sign CDC declarations and give them to the landlord. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the CDC moratorium’s eligibility requirements. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give it to the landlord. There are also two online platforms—here and here—that can help tenants sign the declaration electronically and email it to their landlord. If the tenant already has an eviction court case, the tenant should also give copies of the declarations to the court. A summary of both the CDC moratorium and the Connecticut moratorium is available in English and Spanish.

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

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

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

c) created a serious nuisance; or

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

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

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

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

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

Connecticut Right to Counsel: In late December, a petition was launched by Central CT DSA that calls on Connecticut legislators to pass Right to Counsel legislation guaranteeing the right to no-cost legal counsel to all residential tenants facing eviction proceedings. The petition has received more than 760 signatures and 32 organizational endorsements, including from Connecticut AFL-CIO, Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, Make the Road CT, National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, and New Haven Legal Assistance Association. Read, sign, and share the petition here.

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

Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program over: On December 3, 2020, DOH closed the TRHAP program. If you or someone you know was pre-qualified for the program and have not completed a full application, email trhapinfo@ct.gov to determine what you should do next. If you were pre-qualified for the program but you have not completed a full application, and your landlord is still threatening you with eviction, write to trhapinfo@ct.gov.

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

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

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

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

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

Homeowners have time to request a forbearance on FHA and USDA loans—Homeowners can still request forbearances if they are unable to pay the mortgage as the result of a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to request a forbearance ends on March 31, 2021 for USDA and February 28, 2021 for FHA.

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

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

What should homeowners do?

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

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

UTILITIES

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

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

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

Outreach:

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

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

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

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

January 14, 2021

During the U.S. House of Representatives’ debate on Tuesday, January 12, before a majority of that body voted to impeach the President for a second time, many legislators called for unity and an effort to move beyond the horror perpetrated by white terrorists at the U.S. Capitol. It is not time to move on. It will not be time to move on until the United States confronts its history of white supremacy. This country must acknowledge and correct the decades of discriminatory actions and policies that continue to keep our communities segregated and people of color in substandard housing at risk of eviction, foreclosure, and housing discrimination.

Our work toward overturning those actions and policies continues. Please join us.

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

  • Landlords have filed 2,969 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 785 executions—Once a court issues an execution order, the landlord can hire a state marshal to remove the tenant and their belongings from the unit.

What’s happened since January 7, 2020:

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: At present, Connecticut residents 65 and over as well as people with high-risk health conditions, among others, qualify to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Appointments can be made on-line or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare) or 860-679-4400 (UConn Health). Patients who are 65 and over along with other qualified residents will be seen regardless of whether they have ever used either health care system. No one will receive a vaccine unless they have an appointment. Vaccination clinics are currently being held in Wethersfield, Norwich, Shelton, and Hartford with more sites to be added soon.  For people who are not over the age of 65 or who do not have high-risk health conditions, it is still possible to register to receive notice when you become eligible for a vaccination.

EVICTIONS

Best practices for creating a new rental assistance program:  The National Low Income Housing Coalition has issued best practices for creating a new rental assistance program with the $237 million new rental assistance funding Connecticut is scheduled to receive. Among the recommendations are to create a simple and accessible application process, determine what emergency rental assistance will cover, determine landlord requirements, and identify and partner with key organizations to get the word out about the program.

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

Connecticut Right to Counsel: In late December, a petition was launched by Central CT DSA that calls on Connecticut legislators to propose and pass Right to Counsel legislation guaranteeing the right to no-cost legal counsel to all residential tenants facing eviction proceedings. In its first 10 days, the petition received over 500 signatures, with the campaign now including 23 endorsing organizations, including the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, the CT AFL-CIO, the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, and the Connecticut Fair Housing Center. Watch the launch event here. Read, sign and share the petition here.

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

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

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

c) created a serious nuisance; or

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

Congress extended federal CDC eviction moratorium through January 31: The CDC has extended the federal moratorium on evictions though January 31, 2021. Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. To invoke the protection of the CDC moratorium, all the adults in the household must complete and sign CDC declarations and give them to the landlord. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the CDC moratorium’s eligibility requirements. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give it to the landlord. There are also two online platforms that can help tenants sign the declaration electronically and email it to their landlord. If the tenant already has an eviction court case, the tenant should also give copies of the declarations to the court. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available in English and Spanish.

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.

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

Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program over: On December 3, 2020 DOH closed the TRHAP program. If you or someone you know was pre-qualified for the program and have not completed a full application, email trhapinfo@ct.gov to determine what you should do next. If you were pre-qualified for the program but you have not completed a full application, and your landlord is still threatening you with eviction, write to trhapinfo@ct.gov.

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

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

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

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

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

Homeowners have until February 28, 2021 to request a forbearance on FHA and USDA loans—Homeowners can still request forbearances if they are unable to pay the mortgage as the result of a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to request a forbearance ends on February 28, 2021.

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

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

What should homeowners do?

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

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

UTILITIES

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

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

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

Outreach:

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

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

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

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

January 7, 2021

Yesterday’s images from Washington shook many of us. A sitting President urged his followers to storm the place where a peaceful transfer of power was taking place. This assault on democracy is something that happens somewhere else in the world, but it should not happen here. Many staff at the Center contrasted the armed and helmeted police who used tear gas and violence to intimidate, injure, and arrest Black Lives Matters protesters in May, with the selfie-taking, lax, and limited response by law enforcement to yesterday’s violent terrorists. The day made clear that white privilege extends to people who want to overturn a fair election, but not people who want to protest the killing of Black men, women, and children.

When the new year began, there was hope that 2021 would be different. Our work to make that difference begins right now. Please join the Center in our efforts.

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

  • Landlords have filed 2,866 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 674 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 happened since December 22, 2020:

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

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

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

c) created a serious nuisance; or

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

Congress extended federal CDC eviction moratorium until January 31: The CDC has extended the federal moratorium on evictions until January 31, 2021. To invoke the protection of the CDC moratorium, tenants must complete and sign a declaration and give a copy to their landlord. that the declaration now states that the moratorium expires January 31 and includes the following new language: “Even if you have provided a declaration to your landlord, the Order does not prevent your landlord from seeking a hearing, if authorized by State or local law and in accordance with State or local court procedure, to challenge the truthfulness of your declaration.”

What should tenants do?

Tenants may not be covered by the Connecticut moratorium for various reasons, including that

  • their landlord filed an eviction case before the Connecticut moratorium began on April 10, 2020;
  • (2) they owe rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020;
  • (3) they owe six or more months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020; or
  • (4) their lease has expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence.
  • CDC Moratorium: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic, and it only extends through January 31, 2020. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the requirements a tenant must meet to qualify for the CDC moratorium. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give each declaration to the landlord. There are also two online platforms that can help tenants sign the declaration electronically and email it to their landlord. If the tenant already has an eviction court case, the tenant should also give copies of the declarations to the court. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available in English and Spanish.
  • 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. 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.
  • Responding to Eviction Papers: Tenants should not ignore eviction papers, filing deadlines, or notices about remote court events. Courts have begun entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file forms on time or attend remote court events. 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.

TRHAP program over: On December 3, 2020 DOH closed the TRHAP program. If you or someone you know was pre-qualified for the program and have not completed a full application, email trhapinfo@ct.gov to determine what you should do next. If you were pre-qualified for the program but you have not completed a full application, and your landlord is still threatening you with eviction, write to trhapinfo@ct.gov.

Call to action successful:  On Tuesday, January 5, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center sponsored a call to action that asked the State Legislature and Governor Lamont to extend the eviction moratorium until the end of the pandemic and to provide additional rental relief in the form of payments of rental arrears and future rent obligations to tenants whose ability to pay rent has been affected by COVID-19. The Center’s website and Facebook page include all of the Center’s demands. Through its call to action, the Center reached 2,422 people on Facebook, had 4,301 Twitter impressions, and increased our website views by 192. Follow us on Facebook ctfairhousing or on Twitter @ctfairhousing for more information about the future of this effort.

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

More than 66,000 evictions estimated for Connecticut in connection with COVID-19 pandemic:  The National Low Income Housing Coalition has complied information from several sources that have estimated the number of evictions each state can expect as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. From a low of 66,273 estimated by the Federal Reserve to a high of 133,000 estimated by Stout Risius Ross, a global consulting firm, Connecticut is expected to triple the number of eviction filings compared to previous yearly totals.

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

Mortgage Foreclosure

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

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

Homeowners have until February 28, 2021 to request a forbearance on FHA and USDA loansHomeowners can still request forbearances if they have a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to request a forbearance ends on February 28, 2021.

Judicial Branch is scheduling remote hearings in foreclosure cases:  Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference if necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone. In some Judicial Districts, courts are providing only a few days’ notice to homeowners of a foreclosure judgment hearing. On December 17, 2020, the Center sent the Judicial Branch a letter asking that self-represented parties be provided at least one week actual notice prior to any remote hearing. The Judicial Branch is investigating the problems with notice raised by the Center.

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 this summer. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

T-MAP program is shut down:  https://www.chfa.org/homeowners/state-of-connecticut-temporary-mortgage-assistance-program-t-map/

Black homeowners face delays in getting home insurance claims paid: Black homeowners attempting to use homeowners insurance for repairs to their homes report facing delays in receiving compensation. Many say their claims are significantly discounted while white homeowners are able to get their claims approved quickly. Contractors report seeing differential treatment between Black and white homeowners. However, claims of differential treatment are difficult to prove because insurance companies are not required to give a reason for a denial and do not reveal information about denial rates.

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

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

We have heard of the following issues: 

  • Court mediators in summary process eviction cases have scrutinized Notices to Quit to ensure that they have the required CDC declaration information;
  • Tenants infected with COVID-19 face being forced out of isolation through their landlords use of a court-issued execution.
  • Local health departments believe they have no ability to do anything to stop the spread of the virus in an eviction case;
  • The attorney for the State Marshal Commission believes that they cannot stop an eviction that has been authorized by a court even if the eviction would spread COVID-19;
  • State marshals report they have removed tenants who are COVID+ from their homes;
  • A state marshal reports that he did not know about the CDC declaration;
  • Clerks’ offices do not allow self-represented tenants to file emergency applications with the court electronically, even if the tenant has COVID-19;
  • Attorneys and tenants are experiencing wait times of over half an hour when they call Superior Court Clerks’ Offices;
  • Landlords and tenants report that they did not know about the TRHAP program, which is now closed until at least December 31;
  • Tenants participating in remote mediations are agreeing to stipulated judgments they do not understand because they cannot read the written agreement on their phones;
  • Tenants who are unable to access the Teams platform used for remote hearings and mediations can only participate by audio;
  • Tenants who are only able to participate by audio are not able to see what is happening and do not know what to do once they connect;
  • Tenants who do not have access to a phone or computer are not given an in-person option, so they are unable to attend.
  • Tenants do not know how to install the Teams app;
  • Tenants do not have enough space on their phones to download the Teams app;
  • Downloading the Teams app takes a very long time, and often the program closes before the full download occurs;
  • Tenants are given only 5 days’ notice of a remote hearing;
  • Tenants are not receiving mail in a timely manner, so they only receive notice of the hearing after they’ve already missed it;
  • Hearing and mediation notices are not translated for people with limited English proficiency;
  • Tenants receive notice of the remote hearing, but the notice does not include the date and time of the hearing;
  • Tenants who receive notice of hearings and mediations do not understand that they must give the court their email address to receive access to the hearing;
  • Tenants in receipt of a court event notice send in their email address as instructed but never receive an email with the link to link to join the meeting via video or phone;
  • Hearing notice emails that include the phrase “do not delete” are deleted once the hearing is accepted;
  • Judges are not asking court personnel if tenants were ever contacted by the Court regarding notice of the hearing;
  • Judges are not determining if the landlord has received a CDC declaration;
  • Mediators are not determining if the landlord has received a CDC declaration;
  • Tenants who have given their landlord a CDC declaration are challenged by landlords who say the declaration is untruthful;
  • When an attorney for the landlord did not show up, the Court called him and allowed him to join the remote hearing late. No calls are made to tenants who do not appear on time;
  • Some marshals refuse to let lawyers and tenants into courthouses to file documents;
  • Some courts fail to provide a means for lawyers and the public to observe hearings.

Outreach:

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

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

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

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

December 23, 2020

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

  • Landlords have filed 2,639 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 646 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 happened since December 17, 2020:

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

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

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

c) 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;

Congress extends federal CDC eviction moratorium until January 31: On December 21, both houses of Congress passed a new economic stimulus package that extended the CDC’s federal eviction moratorium to January 31. In addition, the stimulus bill contains emergency housing assistance including:

  • $25 billion for emergency rental assistance. Connecticut is expected to get approximately $237 million;
  • The emergency rental assistance funds can be used for both rental arrears, future rent, and utility payments;
  • The assistance can be for 12 months, although funds can only be given in 3 month increments;
  • 10% of the rental assistance funds (about $20 million for Connecticut) can be used for case management or other services which keep a family stably housed.

Advocates Request Courts Stay Executions: Because of the grave effects of evicting tenants and former homeowners from their homes in the middle of a second COVID-19 spike, the Center joined with the Housing Clinic at Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, part of Yale Law School, to ask the Judicial Branch to stay post-foreclosure and post-eviction executions –physical removals from home – through February 9, the current end of the Governor’s emergency powers. The Judicial Branch has not yet responded.

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

TRHAP program closed: On December 3, DOH closed the TRHAP program to new applications from tenants and landlords in need of assistance. It is not expected to open again before December 31, 2020.

What should tenants do?

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

  • CDC Moratorium: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic, and it only extends through January 31, 2020. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the requirements a tenant must meet to qualify for the CDC moratorium. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give each declaration to the landlord. There are also online platforms here and here that can help tenants sign the declaration electronically and email it to their landlord. If the tenant already has an eviction court case, the tenant should also give copies of the declarations to the court. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available in English and Spanish here.
  • 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. 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.
  • Responding to Eviction Papers: Tenants should not ignore eviction papers, filing deadlines, or notices about remote court events. Courts have begun entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file forms on time or attend remote court events. 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 here.

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

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

Mortgage Foreclosure

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

Homeowners have until February 28, 2021 to request a forbearance on FHA loans—Homeowners can still request forbearances if they are unable to pay the mortgage as the result of a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to request a forbearance ends on February 28, 2021.

Judicial Branch is scheduling remote hearings in foreclosure cases:  Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference if necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone. In some Judicial Districts, courts are providing only a few days’ notice to homeowners of a foreclosure judgment hearing. On December 17, 2020, the Center sent the Judicial Branch a letter asking that self-represented parties be provided at least one week actual notice prior to any remote hearing. The Judicial Branch is investigating the problems with notice raised by the Center.

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 this summer. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

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

Social inequities explain difference in infection rates: According to several recently published studies, Black and Hispanic patients with COVID-19 were no more likely than white patients to be hospitalized even though people of color are infected at much higher rates than whites. The higher infection rates are attributed to Black and Hispanic communities and households being more crowded as well as people working jobs requiring frequent contact with others and relying on public transportation. Access to health care is poorer for people of color than among white Americans, and rates of underlying conditions are much higher.

Survey on the campaign for affordable housing:  The Partnership for Strong Communities is working on a strategic planning process for their HOMEConnecticut campaign for affordable housing in Connecticut. They would like feedback from advocates, tenants, concerned citizens, and those who work in housing through the use of a short, narrowly tailored survey. Your thoughts will inform the Partnership’s work to establish key goals and strategies of the campaign. 

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

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

We have heard of the following issues: 

  • Court mediators in summary process eviction cases have scrutinized Notices to Quit to ensure that they have the required CDC declaration information;
  • Tenants infected with COVID-19 face being forced out of isolation through their landlords use of a court-issued execution.
  • Local health departments believe they have no ability to do anything to stop the spread of the virus in an eviction case;
  • The attorney for the State Marshal Commission believes that they cannot stop an eviction that has been authorized by a court even if the eviction would spread COVID-19;
  • State marshals report they have removed tenants who are COVID+ from their homes;
  • A state marshal reports that he did not know about the CDC declaration;
  • Clerks’ offices do not allow self-represented tenants to file emergency applications with the court electronically, even if the tenant has COVID-19;
  • Attorneys and tenants are experiencing wait times of over half an hour when they call Superior Court Clerks’ Offices;
  • Landlords and tenants report that they did not know about the TRHAP program, which is now closed until at least December 31;
  • Tenants participating in remote mediations are agreeing to stipulated judgments they do not understand because they cannot read the written agreement on their phones;
  • Tenants who are unable to access the Teams platform used for remote hearings and mediations can only participate by audio;
  • Tenants who are only able to participate by audio are not able to see what is happening and do not know what to do once they connect;
  • Tenants who do not have access to a phone or computer are not given an in-person option, so they are unable to attend.
  • Tenants do not know how to install the Teams app;
  • Tenants do not have enough space on their phones to download the Teams app;
  • Downloading the Teams app takes a very long time, and often the program closes before the full download occurs;
  • Tenants are given only 5 days’ notice of a remote hearing;
  • Tenants are not receiving mail in a timely manner, so they only receive notice of the hearing after they’ve already missed it;
  • Hearing and mediation notices are not translated for people with limited English proficiency;
  • Tenants receive notice of the remote hearing, but the notice does not include the date and time of the hearing;
  • Tenants who receive notice of hearings and mediations do not understand that they must give the court their email address to receive access to the hearing;
  • Tenants in receipt of a court event notice send in their email address as instructed but never receive an email with the link to link to join the meeting via video or phone;
  • Hearing notice emails that include the phrase “do not delete” are deleted once the hearing is accepted;
  • Judges are not asking court personnel if tenants were ever contacted by the Court regarding notice of the hearing;
  • Judges are not determining if the landlord has received a CDC declaration;
  • Mediators are not determining if the landlord has received a CDC declaration;
  • Tenants who have given their landlord a CDC declaration are challenged by landlords who say the declaration is untruthful;
  • When an attorney for the landlord did not show up, the Court called him and allowed him to join the remote hearing late. No calls are made to tenants who do not appear on time;
  • Some marshals refuse to let lawyers and tenants into courthouses to file documents;
  • Some courts fail to provide a means for lawyers and the public to observe hearings.

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:

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

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

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

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

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

December 18, 2020

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

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

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

c) has created a serious nuisance; or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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