ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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

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

In today’s update:

Apply_for_UniteCT

Assistance_with_funeral_expenses

Connecticut_mortgage_delinquencies

Eviction_moratoriums

Eviction_statistics

File_CDC_complaints_with_CFPB

Get_the_vaccine

Help_for_homeowners

Outreach

Right_to_Counsel_update

UniteCT_updates

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

  • Landlords have filed 862 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 308 executions—once a court issues an execution order, the landlord can hire a state marshal to remove the tenant and their belongings from the unit.

UniteCT updates:

  • As of April 12, 2021, the UniteCT guidelines state applications will be deemed ineligible if the person applying is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance such as a housing choice voucher or is living in public housing. Despite this, Department of Housing (DOH) is urging tenants who have housing vouchers or who live in public housing to apply. The tenants will be denied but will be eligible to appeal that denial. The instructions on how to appeal a denial are coming soon. DOH will then decide as to whether the tenant needs the assistance. At present there are no published guidelines on how DOH will determine “need.”
  • Denying rental assistance to people with housing subsidies or tenants in public housing has a disparate impact on people of color. In Connecticut, 71% of people in public and subsidized housing are people of color. Without published rules regarding how DOH will determine whether these tenants are truly in need, it is possible that arbitrary decisions will be made regarding eligibility.
  • Tenants evicted from subsidized units because of rental arrears will lose their housing and their subsidies. Many housing authorities and subsidized housing providers will not rent to tenants with an eviction record. As a result, eviction for nonpayment of rent will disqualify many tenants from subsidized housing in the future.
  • The DOH has announced that it will publish data on UniteCT’s program efficacy and equity on Fridays. DOH recommends reading the FAQs on the program page for answers to any questions about the UniteCT program.
  • Tenants should receive a confirmation email once an application is submitted. If the tenant does not receive the confirmation, they should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov to ensure the application was submitted.
  • Once a tenant applies, their landlord should receive an email from UniteCT stating that an application has been submitted and asking the landlord for information. If the landlord still has not received this email, email doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328 to determine why the landlord has not received additional information.
  • All tenants must have a written rental agreement to be eligible. If there is no written rental agreement, the landlord and the tenant must sit down together and write one. The rental agreement must have a holdover clause in it meaning that it has to say that the tenant has the right to stay after the agreement expires. If a tenant is unable to get the landlord to write a rental agreement, email doh-unitect@ct.gov.
  • The UniteCT application includes an “attestation” form for use if the tenant does NOT have documentation of their income, their unemployment date, if current income is zero, the amount of rent past due, or the amount of utilities owed. However, DOH has stated the attestation form cannot be used in place of paystubs or other proof of employment.
  • The tenant can find out if information is missing from their application by checking their application in UniteCT or by emailing doh-unitect@ct.gov. DOH hopes to be able to contact tenants with missing pieces of their application after they have hired additional staff.
  • DOH is currently working on applications where the tenant has been unemployed for 90 days or more and with people who are at 50% of area median income. Once those applications have been fully processed, DOH will move on to the next group of applications.
  • 48 applications for UniteCT have been approved since March 15, 2021.
  • DOH has stated that it will meet with landlords to convince them to accept UniteCT rental payments even if the landlord states they will not participate in the program. Email DOH at doh-unitect@ct.gov if your landlord refuses to participate in the program.
  • Even though there are community agencies assisting with applications, tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application because many do not have reliable access to the internet. The UniteCT tech bus will be making stops at various locations throughout out Connecticut in April. The schedule is listed at the bottom of the UniteCT website.
  • The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments.
  • The online application’s “Help Portal” does not translate the instructions into any language other than English.
  • Outreach materials are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EVICTIONS

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

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

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

c) created a serious nuisance; or

d) has a lease that expired, and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as

the landlord’s primary residence.

The federal CDC eviction moratorium is scheduled to end on June 30, 2021: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut eviction moratorium may still qualify for protection under the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. To receive protection under the CDC moratorium, each adult in your household (18 or older) should:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

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

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

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

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

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

What should homeowners do?

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

Outreach:

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

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

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

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Connecticut Should Use Federal Relief Money to Guarantee Tenants Legal Representation

by Salmun Kazerounian and Sarah White

The Center has endorsed a campaign to make Connecticut the first state to guarantee tenants legal representation in evictions. Nationally, eight cities have created a right to counsel for tenants, two other states are on the verge of creating statewide programs, and many more are considering it as we face an eviction crisis of epic proportions. 

H.B. 6531, which would create a right to counsel for tenants in evictions in Connecticut, passed the Housing Committee in March following a public hearing showing broad community support for the bill. Governor Lamont and the legislature now have a historic opportunity to use federal relief money to fund the right to counsel program through the end of 2024.

Jurisdictions that have passed right to counsel have seen extraordinary results. In New York City—the first jurisdiction to pass right to counsel—86% of tenants facing evictions who receive representation stayed in their homes. Cleveland, which just implemented a right to counsel, found that 93% of evictions were prevented in just the first 6 months. San Francisco experienced a 10% reduction in eviction filings in the first year, before the program was even fully implemented, with 67% of represented tenants staying in their homes. 

The Center’s analysis of eviction records in Connecticut from 2019 supports that we will likely see similar reductions in evictions and forced displacement if Connecticut guarantees legal representation to tenants. 

In 2019, fewer than 7% of residential tenants had legal representation in their eviction cases, compared to more than 80% of landlords. Our estimate is that the number of Black and Latinx tenants with legal representation is even smaller–just 5% of Black and Latinx residential tenants had lawyers.

Legal representation dramatically reduced the likelihood that the court would issue an execution–the final order that permits a marshal to remove a tenant. 44% of residential eviction cases in which the tenant did not have counsel resulted in the court’s issuance of an execution. That is compared to only 21% of cases in which tenants had counse

These results suggest that, with counsel, tenants are less than half as likely to be forcibly removed from their homes by a marshal. The likelihood of a residential eviction case being withdrawn also more than doubled when tenants had counsel.

Legal representation also improved the results of mediation. When the tenant was unrepresented in mediation and entered into a stipulated judgment, an execution was still issued 38% of the time. When the tenants had a lawyer and entered into a stipulated judgment, an execution was issued just 2.9% of the time. This suggests that stipulations entered into by tenants with legal representation are much more likely to be successful and to end in reinstatement, meaning the tenant gets to stay in their home and avoids eviction. Everyone benefits when tenants have legal representation.   

Connecticut can fund a right to counsel program for tenants for three and a half years using a tiny fraction of the more than $2.6 billion dollars in federal relief money it will receive under the American Rescue Plan act.  And over time, the state will save money 2 to 12 times greater than its investment, including in shelter costs, emergency services, and the other collateral costs of eviction and homelessness.

You can add your voice to ours in urging Governor Lamont and the legislature to pass H.B. 6531 and fund a right to counsel program for tenants. Find out how here.

PUBLIC AND SUBSIDIZED TENANTS NO LONGER ELIGIBLE FOR UniteCT

As of April 12, 2021, the UniteCT guidelines state: 

Applications will be deemed ineligible if: 

  • Applicant is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance. (emphasis added) 

This represents a significant change from the program guidelines (no longer available on the DOH website) published on March 15, 2021 which stated:  

An eligible household that occupies a federally subsidized residential unit may receive UniteCT ERA assistance, provided that UniteCT ERA funds are not applied to costs that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal assistance. If an eligible household received a monthly federal subsidy and the rent is adjusted according to changes in income, the renter household may receive UniteCT ERA assistance for the tenant-owed portion of rent or utilities that is not subsidized. An analysis of income and sources of assistance will be performed in order to ensure no duplication of benefits exists. (emphasis added). 

This change may have long lasting effects because: 

  • Denying rental assistance to people with housing subsidies or tenants in public housing has a disparate impact on people of color. In Connecticut, 71% of people in subsidized are people of color.  
  • Tenants evicted from subsidized units because of rental arrears will lose their housing and their subsidies. 
  • Many housing authorities and subsidized housing providers will not rent to tenants with an eviction record. As a result, eviction for nonpayment of rent will disqualify many tenants from subsidized housing in the future. 

Resources for tenants and homeowners:  

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

Sign up to receive this weekly update. 

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

April 8, 2021

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

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

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

  • Landlords have filed 5,004 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 1,421 executions—Once a court issues an execution order, the landlord can hire a state marshal to remove the tenant and their belongings from the unit.

What’s happened since April 1, 2021:

UniteCT is accepting applications. The new emergency rental and utilities assistance program, called UniteCT, opened on Monday, March 15, 2021. The assistance is available to everyone with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who has experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications must be made on-line. A list of the documents which must be included with an application can be found here

Visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT to apply or call 1-844-864-8328 to get a referral to a community agency who may be able to assist tenants and landlords in applying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EVICTIONS

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

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

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

c) created a serious nuisance; or

d) has a lease that expired, and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as

the landlord’s primary residence.

The federal CDC eviction moratorium is now scheduled to end on June 30, 2021: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut eviction moratorium may still qualify for protection under the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. To receive protection under the CDC moratorium, each adult in your household (18 or older) should:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What should homeowners do?

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

Outreach:

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

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

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

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ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

April 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

  • Landlords have filed 4,802 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 1,343 executions—Once a court issues an execution order, the landlord can hire a state marshal to remove the tenant and their belongings from the unit.

What’s happened since March 26, 2021:

UniteCT is accepting applications. The new emergency rental and utilities assistance program, called UniteCT, opened on Monday, March 15, 2021. The assistance is available to everyone with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who has experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications must be made on-line. A list of the documents which must be included with an application can be found here.  Visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT to apply or call 1-844-864-8328 to get a referral to a community agency who may be able to assist tenants and landlords in applying.

Tenants and advocates are reporting several issues accessing UniteCT rental assistance funds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EVICTIONS

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

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

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

c) created a serious nuisance; or

d) has a lease that expired, and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as

the landlord’s primary residence.

The federal CDC eviction moratorium is now scheduled to end on June 30, 2021: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut eviction moratorium may still qualify for protection under the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. To receive protection under the CDC moratorium, each adult in your household (18 or older) should:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What should homeowners do?

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

Outreach:

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

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

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

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eligibility Requirements Checklist

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

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

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

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

March 26, 2021

On March 26, 2021, the Connecticut Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on H.B. 6662 which would declare racism a public health crisis. Whether it is the murder of Asian women in Atlanta or the anti-Muslim vitriol directed at the shooter in Boulder (compared with the relative empathy demonstrated by some for the shooter in Atlanta), racism runs rampant in our country. Connecticut is not immune. Many white residents voiced their fear of people who could move into their communities if zoning rules were changed during a recent 24-hour hearing before the CGA’s Planning and Development Committee. Racism is a public health crisis. Please join us in the fight to ensure that all Connecticut communities welcome all people.

Unsung Heroines: An Ode to Women of Color in Fair Housing is a presentation hosted by the Connecticut Fair Housing Center to celebrate fair housing month. The panel will recognize the contributions women of color have made in the fair housing movement. We will explore why housing needs to be a part of every conversation about racial equity, and why it is so heavily resisted. Lisa Rice, the President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance will be our keynote speaker. This is a free and remote event taking place on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, please register to receive webinar link. Learn more about the event on our Facebook.

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

  • Landlords have filed 4,640 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 1,307 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 March 19, 2021:

UniteCT accepting applications:  The new emergency rental and utilities assistance program, called UniteCT, opened on Monday, March 15, 2021. The assistance is available to everyone with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who has experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications must be made on-line. A list of the documents which must be included with an application can be found here.  Visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT to apply or call 1-844-864-8328 to get a referral to a community agency who may be able to assist tenants in applying.

Rents going up for low-income renters: The past year has seen rent hikes on lower-quality housing usually occupied by low-income tenants with steep discounts on luxury apartment catering to the rich. This tracks the economic recovery where higher income households have seen little income changes while lower- and moderate-income households are losing income and are in danger of losing their homes. The increasing rents for lower-income tenants has been seen in Connecticut in Fairfield and New Haven Counties where people from New York City have fled to escape the pandemic. Landlords are raising rents for people who are low-income in an effort to get them to move out, which will allow these landlords to rent to the New York newcomers.

Racial disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 42% of Latinx families and 51% of Black families have little or no confidence in their ability to pay rent in March compared to 14% of white families.

Source of income discrimination still prevalent:  A fair housing organization filed suit against 88 brokerage firms and landlords in New York City accusing them of discriminating against people based on their source of income. As one woman who was the victim of source of income discrimination said, “The roller-coaster ride they put me in, I had a mental breakdown . . . You are playing with someone’s life.”  The Center is receiving reports of Connecticut landlords refusing to accept emergency rental assistance, which can also be a violation of the Connecticut fair housing laws.

CFPB director nominee calls decision in Center tenant-screening case a “landmark”:  During his confirmation hearing to head the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rohit Chopra claimed that tenant screening practices may constitute unlawful discrimination, stating “[w]hen it comes to opportunities like housing and employment, background screeners can play a pivotal role in determining whether an applicant is accepted or denied, since they provide detailed dossiers of personal information. If their practices are discriminatory, they can and should be held accountable.” In support for this argument Chopra embraced what he termed the “landmark decision” Connecticut Fair Housing Center v. CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions, LLC, 369 F. Supp. 3d 362 (D. Conn. 2019).

24-hour public hearing produces little agreement on how to address Connecticut’s affordable housing crisis:  While most legislators and people testifying at the Planning and Development public hearing on affordable housing agreed that Connecticut’s housing is too expensive, few agreed on how to resolve the problem. In addition, many legislators who questioned advocates of zoning reform appeared unable to understand that a failure to provide affordable housing resulted reinforcing segregation patterns, believing that maintaining the status quo would somehow lead to different results. Advocates argued that zoning reform would result in more affordable housing in more locations and would permit people of color access to many of Connecticut’s communities. The Planning and Development Committee has not determined how to move forward with these bills.

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

Congress passes the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA):  The American Rescue Plan Act provides COVID-19 relief funds to address many pandemic related financial issues including low-income renters, people behind on their utility payments, and people experiencing homelessness. Connecticut is expected to receive a total of $10 billion.Of the $10 billion, Connecticut will receive approximately $216 million for emergency rental assistance and approximately $50 million for new housing choice vouchers. The bill will also bring approximately $99.6 million to help homeowners avoid foreclosure through the Homeowner Assistance Fund.

Federal and State jury trials set to resume: Officials in both the State and Federal court systems have indicated they expect to start jury trials again in early May. At this time, the federal courts are prioritizing jury trials in criminal cases. While jurors who have been scheduled for duty in state court have had their jury service cancelled through April 30, 2021, the state courts are also expected to resume jury trials in May.

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: The table below contains the latest information on who qualifies to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

AgeEligible for vaccination
Ages 65 and olderNow
Ages 55 and older as well as school employeesNow
Ages 45 – 54March 19
Ages 35 – 44April 5 (tentative)
Ages 16 – 34April 5 (tentative)

Appointments can be made on-line or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare) or 860-679-4400 (UConn Health) or (877) 918-2224 (the state vaccine system). Deaf and hard of- hearing can access the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line through the Connecticut Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1.  The Assist Line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The phone number to call for vaccination scheduling is: 877-918-2224.

EVICTIONS

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

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

Connecticut eviction moratorium expires 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.

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 is scheduled to end on March 31: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut eviction moratorium may still qualify for protection under the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic, and the moratorium is scheduled to end on March 31.

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

Foreclosures could soften the housing market: As of Friday, March 5, the Judicial Branch listed 200 homes and commercial properties in foreclosure. However, with the June 30 end to the federal moratorium on foreclosure of Fannie and Freddie properties approaching, real estate brokers are worried that additional foreclosures properties on the market could result in softening the sales market.

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

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

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 People’s United 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.

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

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

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

What should homeowners do?

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

Outreach:

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

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

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

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

March 19, 2021

The recent murders of six Asian women in Georgia and the attempt to pass off this violence as someone having a bad day are part of a larger effort to minimize violence and discrimination against people who are Asian, Asian-American, or are of Pacific Island (AAPI) descent. AAPI folks have been victims of racist hate crimes and discriminatory policy countless times in our nation’s history, and as recently as during the previous White House administration. We must make a commitment to not erase hate-crimes and racist violence, and we must support the victims with anti-racist work. The Center stands with people who are AAPI because they are our neighbors, friends, and families. The violence and discrimination they are suffering must stop. Please join us in this fight.

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

  • Landlords have filed 4,443 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 1,262 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 March 12, 2021:

UniteCT accepting applications:  The new emergency rental and utilities assistance program, called UniteCT opened on Monday, March 15, 2021. The assistance is available to everyone with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who has experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications must be made on-line. Visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT to apply or call 1-844-864-8328 to get a referral to a community agency who may be able to assist tenants in applying.

Racial disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 42% of Latinx families and 51% of Black families have little or no confidence in their ability to pay rent in March compared to 14% of white families.

Source of income discrimination still prevalent:  A fair housing organization filed suit against 88 brokerage firms and landlords in New York City accusing them of discriminating against people based on their source of income. As one woman who was the victim of source of income discrimination said, “The roller-coaster ride they put me in, I had a mental breakdown . . . You are playing with someone’s life.”  The Center is receiving reports of Connecticut landlords refusing to accept emergency rental assistance, which can also be a violation of the Connecticut fair housing laws.

CFPB director nominee calls decision in Center tenant-screening case a “landmark”:  During his confirmation hearing to head the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rohit Chopra claimed that tenant screening practices may constitute unlawful discrimination, stating “[w]hen it comes to opportunities like housing and employment, background screeners can play a pivotal role in determining whether an applicant is accepted or denied, since they provide detailed dossiers of personal information. If their practices are discriminatory, they can and should be held accountable.” In support for this argument Chopra embraced what he termed the “landmark decision” Connecticut Fair Housing Center v. CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions, LLC, 369 F. Supp. 3d 362 (D. Conn. 2019).

24-hour public hearing produces little agreement on how to address Connecticut’s affordable housing crisis:  While most legislators and people testifying at the Planning and Development public hearing on affordable housing agreed that Connecticut’s housing is too expensive, few agreed on how to resolve the problem. In addition, many legislators who questioned advocates of zoning reform appeared unable to understand that a failure to provide affordable housing resulted reinforcing segregation patterns, believing that maintaining the status quo would somehow lead to different results. Advocates argued that zoning reform would result in more affordable housing in more locations and would permit people of color access to many of Connecticut’s communities. The Planning and Development Committee has not determined how to move forward with these bills.

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

Congress passes the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA):  The American Rescue Plan Act provides COVID-19 relief funds to address many pandemic related financial issues including low-income renters, people behind on their utility payments, and people experiencing homelessness. Connecticut is expected to receive a total of $10 billion.Of the $10 billion, Connecticut will receive approximately $216 million for emergency rental assistance and approximately $50 million for new housing choice vouchers. The bill will also bring approximately $99.6 million to help homeowners avoid foreclosure through the Homeowner Assistance Fund.

Federal and State jury trials set to resume: Officials in both the State and Federal court systems have indicated they expect to start jury trials again in early May. At this time, the federal courts are prioritizing jury trials in criminal cases. While jurors who have been scheduled for duty in state court have had their jury service cancelled through April 30, 2021, the state courts are also expected to resume jury trials in May.

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: The table below contains the latest information on who qualifies to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

AgeEligible for vaccination
Ages 65 and olderNow
Ages 55 and older as well as school employeesNow
Ages 45 – 54March 19
Ages 35 – 44April 5 (tentative)
Ages 16 – 34April 5 (tentative)

Appointments can be made on-line or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare) or 860-679-4400 (UConn Health) or (877) 918-2224 (the state vaccine system). Deaf and hard of- hearing can access the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line through the Connecticut Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1.  The Assist Line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The phone number to call for vaccination scheduling is: 877-918-2224.

EVICTIONS

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

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

Connecticut eviction moratorium expires 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.

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 is scheduled to end on March 31: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut eviction moratorium may still qualify for protection under the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic, and the moratorium is scheduled to end on March 31.

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

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

Foreclosures could soften the housing market: As of Friday, March 5, the Judicial Branch listed 200 homes and commercial properties in foreclosure. However, with the June 30 end to the federal moratorium on foreclosure of Fannie and Freddie properties approaching, real estate brokers are worried that additional foreclosures properties on the market could result in softening the sales market.

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

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

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 People’s United 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.

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

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

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

What should homeowners do?

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

Outreach:

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

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

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

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

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

March 12, 2021

Welfare liens deprive former recipients of public assistance from the economic security and mobility provided by homeownership and perpetuates Connecticut’s significant wealth inequality. Because Black and Latinx residents are disproportionately likely to have welfare liens due to the legacies of racism, welfare liens perpetuate the racial wealth gap and hit hardest the communities most impacted by redlining, predatory lending, and other discriminatory housing practices. The Center was recently part of a campaign to repeal Connecticut’s welfare lien law. As a result, thousands of Connecticut residents will now have more equity in their homes. The removal of welfare liens is part of what the Center is doing to ensure that all Connecticut residents have access to the housing of their choice. Please join us.

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

  • Landlords have filed 4,250 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
  • Courts have issued 1,211 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 March 5, 2021:

UniteCT opening on March 15, 2021:  The new emergency rental and utilities assistance program, called UniteCT, will be open for applications starting at 8 a.m. on Monday, March 15, 2021. The assistance is available to everyone with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who has experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications can be made on-line or through a call center. Visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT or call 1-844-UniteCT for more information​​​​​​​.

What happens when $10 million tenants cannot pay the rent? Experts are warning that the inability of tenants to pay rent due to the COVID-19 economic crisis could result in an unprecedented number of smaller landlords selling their homes to investors who have amassed as much as $300 billion to buy distressed properties. This would represent a huge transfer of wealth and property out of the hands of families and communities into Wall Street portfolios. The experts recommend the creation of a federal agency to purchase distressed property and eventually turn them over to tenant cooperatives, community land trusts, nonprofits, and public housing authorities.

Congress passes the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA):  The American Rescue Plan Act provides COVID-19 relief funds to address many pandemic related financial issues including low-income renters, people behind on their utility payments, and people experiencing homelessness. Connecticut is expected to receive a total of $10 billion.Of the $10 billion, Connecticut will receive approximately $27.4 million for emergency rental assistance and approximately $5 million for new housing choice vouchers. The bill will also bring approximately $9.96 million to help homeowners avoid foreclosure through the Homeowner Assistance Fund. Finally, ARPA will bring Connecticut approximately $4.5 million for utility assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and $500,000 for water assistance.

People of color uncertain they will be able to pay rent:  According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 42% of Latinx families and 51% of Black families have little or no confidence in their ability to pay rent in March compared to 14% of white families.

Federal and State jury trials set to resume: Officials in both the State and Federal court systems have indicated they expect to start jury trials again in early May. At this time, the federal courts are prioritizing jury trials in criminal cases. While jurors who have been scheduled for duty in state court have had their jury service cancelled through April 20, 2021, the state courts are also expected to resume jury trials in May.

Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: At present, Connecticut residents 55 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 employeesNow
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). Deaf and hard of- hearing can access the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line through the Connecticut Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1.  The Assist Line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The phone number to call for vaccination scheduling is: 877-918-2224.

EVICTIONS

Right to counsel is a racial justice issue:  Despite the state and federal moratoriums on eviction, nearly 3,000 Connecticut families have faced eviction in the past 10 months. Over half of these families were Black or Latinx, even though these groups combined comprise less than a quarter of the overall population. In Connecticut, less than 7 percent of tenants facing eviction—and just 5 percent of Black and Latinx tenants facing eviction—have legal counsel compared to over 80 percent of landlords. Connecticut has been in a housing crisis for years, with four cities ranking in the top 100 evicting cities. Right to counsel legislation will not only help prevent evictions, but also make a huge difference for communities of color. The eviction crisis is a racial justice crisis, and right to counsel legislation provides one of the most immediate tools to generate positive change.

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

Connecticut eviction moratorium expires 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.

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

Foreclosures could soften the housing market: As of Friday, March 5, the Judicial Branch listed 200 homes and commercial properties in foreclosure. However, with the June 30 end to the federal moratorium on foreclosure of Fannie and Freddie properties approaching, real estate brokers are worried that additional foreclosures properties on the market could result in softening the sales market.

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

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

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.

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

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

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:

  • 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

March 5, 2021 

“There is no basic human need that housing doesn’t touch.”—John Pollack, Coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel who testified at the Housing Committee public hearing on March 4, 2021 in support of a Right to Counsel for Tenants. He also confirmed that 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 4,071 new summary process (eviction) cases in court. 
  • Courts have issued 1,122 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 25, 2021: 

People of color uncertain they will be able to pay rent:  According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 42% of Latinx and 51% of Black families have little or no confidence in their ability to pay rent in March compared to 14% of white families. 

Few tenants have attorneys when losing their homes:  Over the last three months, 593 tenants were in Housing Court responding to a summary process eviction case; 28 tenants had an attorney while a majority of the landlords had attorneys. Only 7% of tenants facing eviction last year had an attorney. The Connecticut General Assembly’s Housing Committee heard testimony on H.B. 6531, a bill which would guarantee tenants a right to counsel in eviction cases. Speaker of the House Ritter and Senate President Pro Tem Looney are also in support of the bill. As Senator Looney said, providing attorneys to tenants in eviction is a matter of equity. Learn how to get involved in the movement to pass H.B. 6531. 

Cost effectiveness of providing attorneys for tenants in eviction:  Philadelphia and Baltimore, which are among the seven cities that have adopted a right to counsel, calculated savings of $12.74 and $6.24 (respectively) for every $1 invested in right to counsel. This amounts to an annual savings of $45.2 million for Philadelphia and $35.6 million for Baltimore. Massachusetts, one of at least seven other states currently considering a statewide right to counsel, studied the estimated impact and calculated savings of $2.40 in the direct costs of homelessness for every $1 invested in providing tenants legal representation for a total savings of $63 million for a program that would cost around $26 million, and it does not even include likely savings from educational, transportation, court, and other costs. On average, each eviction results in thousands in public costs, including for shelters and homeless services, emergency services, healthcare, educational expenses and transportation, and child welfare. Connecticut’s looming eviction crisis has been estimated to cost between $628 million and $1.2 billion, with an average estimated cost per household of nearly $9,500. Providing legal representation to tenants is just a fraction of this cost. 

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. 

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. 

Age Eligible for vaccination 
Ages 65 and older Now 
Ages 55 and older as well as school employees March 1 
Ages 45 – 54 March 22 
Ages 35 – 44 April 12 
Ages 16 – 34 May 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). Deaf and hard of- hearing can access the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line through the Connecticut Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1.  The Assist Line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The phone number to call for vaccination scheduling is: 877-918-2224.  

EVICTIONS 

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 has created a new program to distribute $235 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds that is scheduled to open on March 15, 2021. The federal legislation allows the State to pay up to 12 months of rent in addition to utility arrearages. Check the Department of Housing website for updates on how to apply. 

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. 

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.   

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. 

CDC moratorium still in place:  Last week, a Texas court held that the CDC overstepped its authority in issuing an eviction moratorium. While the court decision is troubling, it does not affect the moratorium in Connecticut or any other state other than Texas. Tenants who qualify for the CDC moratorium should follow the instructions below. 

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 

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

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

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.  

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

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

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.  

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