ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Evictions cause poverty. In many cases, the disruption caused by an eviction may lead directly to loss of employment which results in reduced income which further diminishes access to quality housing. Children change schools, possessions are forfeited to high storage fees, an eviction record prevents families from relocating to decent housing in safe neighborhoods, pregnant women give birth prematurely to infants with low birth weights, and high rates of depression recur as long as two years after the move.

During the recently concluded legislative session, Connecticut passed a bill guaranteeing low-income tenants a right to counsel. However, that program will not be up and running until October 1, 2021, and even then, it will take time to implement it throughout the state. In the meantime, tenants are being evicted and the UniteCT program has approved payment for only 6.5% of the nearly 85,000 tenants who are behind on their rent.

A recent New York Times article demonstrates that much of the country is also facing an eviction crisis. However, there are several steps that Connecticut can take to prevent more families from falling into poverty:

  • The Legislature should allow the Governor to extend E.O. 12D beyond September 30, 2021. E.O. 12D has led to a drop in the number of eviction filings from 167 in the last full week of June to 64 during the week of July 19 after E.O. 12D took effect.
  • Expand options for applying to UniteCT.  Extremely low-income tenants (those most likely to be behind on rent) are least likely to have internet access.
  • Launch new efforts to reach tenants least likely to apply. Only 15.7% of the tenants who owe rent have completed an application for UniteCT.
  • Culturally relevant outreach makes a difference. This means advertisements in many languages; webpage links in many languages and not just the use of on-line, inaccurate translation tools; trainings in languages other than English; use of alternative media to reach non-white audiences; and door knocking with personnel who speak languages other than English. All of this should be supported and paid for by the emergency rental assistance program and not by the housing counselors and agencies doing the work.
  • Make payments directly to tenants who cannot stay in their homes will both prevent homelessness and get money to tenants more quickly.

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In today’s update:

Additional_resources

Eviction/mortgage delinquency statistics

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratorium_status

Tech_bus_schedule

UniteCT Updates

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

  • 84,891 Connecticut tenants reported they were not caught up on rent while 75,958 reported they have no confidence in their ability to pay August rent.
  • 5,486 applications or 41% of the total fully submitted applications have been approved for payment of a rental and/or utility arrears. Nearly $43.2 million has been paid out or 10.8% of the total funding allocated to Connecticut;
  • 1,442 people have entered homeless shelters. Only 27.8% of those exiting shelter went into permanent homes;
  • Landlords have filed 2,930 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • 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.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 49% of Latinx renters, 42% of Black renters, and 18% of people of two or more races who rent have little or no confidence they can pay next month’s rent compared to 11% of white renters.

In addition, 12.2% of Latinx homeowners, 15.8% of Black homeowners, 10% of Asian homeowners, and 12.5% of people of two or more races are not caught up on their mortgage payments compared to 5% of white homeowners.

Eviction and foreclosure moratorium status:

Connecticut Eviction Moratorium expired June 30, 2021. However, Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 12D which has been extended through September 30, 2021. See below for details on the E.O. and the Judicial Branch’s efforts to implement that order.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium expires on Saturday, July 31, 2021. This protection only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payments because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here.

Current foreclosure moratoriums:

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: (essentially) until August 31, 2021
  • HUD, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Agriculture: until July 31, 2021
  • CFPB’s 2021 Mortgage Servicing Covid-19 Rule: The CFPB Covid-19 servicing rule will implement a foreclosure moratorium from August 31, 2021, until December 31, 2021 that applies to most mortgages, not just federally backed mortgages. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:
  • Has abandoned the property;
  • Was more than 120 days behind on their mortgage before March 1, 2020;
  • Is more than 120 days behind on their mortgage payments and has not responded to specific required outreach from the mortgage servicer for 90 days; or
  • Has been evaluated for all options other than foreclosure and there are no available options to avoid foreclosure.

Tenants living in multifamily properties with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgage cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent through September 30, 2021. Additional tenant protections include not charging tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent and allowing tenants flexibility in repayment of back rent over time and not demanding a lump sum payment. Finally, landlords evicting for reasons other than nonpayment of rent must give a 30-day notice.

No foreclosure moratorium on mortgages that are not “federally-backed” or non-mortgage foreclosures: Homeowners whose mortgages are not “federally-backed” (except as they might be covered in the future by the CFPB Mortgage Servicing Covid-19 Rule) or who owe condominium fees, real estate taxes, or other real estate related taxes are not protected from foreclosure. Since January 1, 2021, 44% of all foreclosure actions filed were for non-mortgage foreclosures: 11% were filed by municipalities; 14% were filed by condominium associations; 15% were filed by private 3rd parties who bought tax and sewer liens from municipalities.

E.O. 12D and the Judicial Branch’s Implementation

Governor Lamont used his emergency powers to extend E.O. 12D to September 30, 2021. The order includes the following provisions:

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

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

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

In addition, the Housing Court Clerks have been told:

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

If during a mediation either the landlord or the tenant notifies the mediator that a UniteCT application has been submitted, then mediators will inform the judge about the application so that an order stopping the proceedings, which could include ordering a continuance of the matter for more than 30 days, can enter.

Help for tenants

What E.O. 12D means for tenants:

  • A landlord must complete an application for UniteCT before they send you a Notice to Quit for not paying rent. The notice must include the landlord’s UniteCT application number.
  • If you receive a Notice to Quit for any reason, the notice should include a copy of the UniteCT flyer in Spanish and English.
  • If you receive a Notice to Quit for not paying rent, you will have 30 days to pay the rent or apply for UniteCT. If all the back rent is paid within 30 days your, landlord cannot start an eviction case in court.
  • Any Notice to Quit for not paying rent or for lapse of time (meaning your lease was not renewed) must give you 30 days’ notice before your landlord can start a case in court.
  • If you receive a Notice to Quit, you never have to move out by the date on the notice. If you are still in the apartment after the date on the notice, your landlord can start a case in court to ask the court for permission to evict you.
  • If you have applied for UniteCT and you have to go to court do the following: 1) check the status of your application before you go to see if you have been approved; 2) have your UniteCT case number ready to share with the court; 3) tell the Judge or Mediator about your UniteCT application even if you have not been approved or you have not finished the application; 4) ask the Judge or the Mediator to pause your case for 30 days while you wait to see if UniteCT will pay your back rent.
  • You may also want to take a screenshot of your application status page and have that ready to share as well. If you have not yet applied for UniteCT, you must do so to receive the 30-day pause.
  • You can apply to UniteCT by going to https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT. Write down your application number so you can share it with the court. Then notify your landlord by phone, email, and text that you have applied to UniteCT and ask them to complete their part of the application.

If the landlord refuses to participate in UniteCT, tenants should do the following:

  • Call the Connecticut Fair Housing Center at 860-247-4400 to do an intake. The Center is reviewing cases where the landlord refused to participate in UniteCT to determine if there is a violation of the Connecticut’s requirement that landlord’s accept housing assistance.

Apply for a security deposit and up to 12 months future rent to be paid to a new landlord through UniteCT.

Tenants whose landlords have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage have additional protections:

On July 28, 2021, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that tenants of multifamily properties with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) who are subject to eviction for nonpayment of rent must be given 30 days’ notice to vacate before the tenant can be required to leave the unit.

UniteCT Updates

DOH continues to make changes to the UniteCT program to meet the needs of tenants and landlords. Check the UniteCT website and the guidance on the program frequently to get the latest updates. Currently, tenants eligible for UniteCT are entitled to:

  • People with disabilities who need assistance filling out an application for UniteCT or with any other aspect of the program, should send an email to UniteCTReasonableAccommodation@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328 and ask for a reasonable accommodation such as someone to help fill out an application, or upload documents, or any other change in the application process or program that will help the person who is disabled participate in the program.
  • Applicants for UniteCT who live in census tracts where the majority of people have income at or below 80% of AMI are not required to upload any income documentation. The UniteCT pre-application will make the determination as to whether the applicants lives in a qualifying census tract.
  •  Applicants who receive benefits from Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), and the state supplement will be eligible for UniteCT without additional income verification;
  • Tenants will now be eligible to receive up to $15,000 in rental arrearage payments for any rent owed after March 13, 2020 regardless of the number of months owed. If, based on the application, it is clear the tenant needs more than $15,000 to clear their arrearage, UniteCT will review the application and determine if additional funds will be paid;
  •  Landlords will not be required to write-off 15% of the rental arrearage;
  • If tenants are eligible for prospective rental payments through UniteCT, the tenant will not be required to contribute any rent for the first three months of prospective payments;
  •  UniteCT will provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact doh-unitect@ct.gov immediately. At present, UniteCT staff are working with housing authorities to determine if there is a way for housing authorities to submit bulk applications on behalf of their tenants for the program;

The UniteCT mobile tech bus will be at the following locations for the week starting
August 2, 2021:

UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies. There are no stops scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, July 26 and 27, 2021.

Danielson, CT

When:        Monday, August 2, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:   Killingly Board of Education, 79 Westfield Avenue, Danielson, CT, 06239

Contact:     Tyra Bergstrom, tyra.bergstrom@accessagency.org, 860-207-0542

North Grosvenordale, CT

When:        Tuesday, August 3, 1 pm – 3 pm

Location:   TEEG, 15 Thatcher Road, North Grosvenordale, CT 06255

Contact:     Tyra Bergstrom, tyra.bergstrom@accessagency.org, 860-207-0542

Putnam, CT

When:        Wednesday, August 4, 10am – 3pm

Location:   New Hope Baptist Church (parking lot), 1100 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604

Contact:     Tyra Bergstrom, tyra.bergstrom@accessagency.org, 860-207-0542

New Haven, CT

When:        Friday, August 6, 10am – 3pm

Location:   Junta for Progressive Action, 169 Grand Ave, New Haven CT

Contact:     Michelle Garcia, michelle.garcia@juntainc.org 

Torrington, CT

When:        Saturday, August 7, 1 pm – 3pm

Location:   Torrington Public Library, 12 Daycoeton Pl, Torrington, CT 06790

Contact:     Mya Saree’ Gray, mgray@nhswaterbury.org, 203.695.3389 

Help for homeowners

Connecticut is using federal Homeownership Assistance Funds to assist homeowner’s delinquent on payments: The American Recovery Plan included funding for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Connecticut will receive approximately $123 million. DOH is working with CHFA to pilot a program with three mortgage services that will provide up to $20,000 in grants to homeowners whose income is at or below 80% of AMI and who are socially or economically disadvantaged. A pilot program is expected to begin in July 2021. The full program is expected to roll out in September 2021.

Fannie and Freddie expand use of interest rate reductions:  On June 30, 2021, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that they would expand their interest rate reduction programs. Flex Modification terms will be adjusted for COVID-19 hardships making interest rate reduction possible for eligible borrowers, regardless of the borrower’s loan-to-value ratio.

FHFA closes gap between Fannie and Freddie moratorium and CFPB servicing moratorium: On June 29, 2021, FHFA announced it would extend its moratorium to protect borrowers until CFPB moratorium starts. The CFPB Mortgage Servicing Covid-19 Rule prohibits servicers from making a first notice or filing for foreclosure in most cases covered by the rule before December 31, 2021. Servicers will still be able to make a notice or filing for foreclosure on abandoned properties and those that had a foreclosure referral prior to March 2020, along with certain other exceptions. CFPB’s final rule will take effect August 31, 2021.

CFPB issues rules to facilitate transition as federal protections expire: On June 28, 2021, the CFPB issued rules to transition as federal foreclosure protections expire. The rules take effect on August 31, 2021 and end on December 31, 2021. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:

  • Has abandoned the property;
  • Was more than 120 days behind on their mortgage before March 1, 2020;
  • Is more than 120 days behind on their mortgage payments and has not responded to specific required outreach from the mortgage servicer for 90 days; or
  • Has been evaluated for all options other than foreclosure and there are no available options to avoid foreclosure.

This protection applies to many, but not all, mortgages.

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Additional resources

Welfare liens on real property will be removed:  As part of legislation passed during the 2021 legislative session, the Department of Social Services is required to remove all liens put on any property as the result of the  receipt of Medicaid or cash assistance. In the past, DSS put a lien on any property (like a house or a condominium) owned by a client, former client, and legally liable relatives (someone who has a legal obligation to support someone who received benefits) who received Medicaid or cash assistance like TANF. The lien was equal to the amount paid in Medicaid or cash benefits. DSS can no longer put liens on property in an effort to recover any money paid out and any liens that are currently on any property must be removed. If you have a lien on your property, write to DSS at DSS.Resources@ct.gov.

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

Outreach:  To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

On July 21, 2021, the White House sponsored an Eviction Prevention webinar. The presentations from White House, Treasury, and HUD personnel, judges from Georgia and Tennessee, and housing counselors and grassroots organizations made clear that there is more that can be done in Connecticut to prevent tenants from losing their homes.

  • The Judicial Branch could allow housing counselors or UniteCT workers into the courthouses to help landlords and tenants with eviction cases apply for assistance when they show up for court like they do in Georgia and Tennessee.
  • The UniteCT administrators could take advice from Gene Sperling, the American Rescue Plan Coordinator for the President, who assured all emergency rental assistance administrators that now is not the time to hide behind overly cautious or conservative procedures. It is imperative that programs use maximum flexibility to get the money to tenants.
  • Payments directly to tenants who cannot stay in their homes will both prevent homelessness and get money to tenants more quickly.
  • Culturally relevant outreach makes a difference. This means advertisements in many languages; webpage links in many languages and not just the use of on-line, inaccurate translation tools; trainings in languages other than English; use of alternative media to reach non-white audiences; and door knocking with personnel who speak languages other than English. All of this should be supported and paid for by the emergency rental assistance program and not by the housing counselors and agencies doing the work.

In just over four months, UniteCT has used just 9% of the funding allocated and had fully submitted applications from only 12,380 landlords and tenants. Only 4,815 of the estimated 84,000 tenants who owe rent have received benefits. If the pace of applications and payments does not improve dramatically, it is likely that Connecticut will not use all of the $400 million it received to keep its most vulnerable citizens in housing.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

In today’s update:

Additional_resources

Eviction/mortgage delinquency statistics

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratorium_status

Tech_bus_schedule

UniteCT Updates

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

  • 4,815 applications or 39% of the total fully submitted applications have been approved for payment of a rental and/or utility arrears. Nearly $37 million has been paid out or about 9% of the total funding allocated to Connecticut;
  • 1,382 people have entered homeless shelters. Only 26.9% of those exiting shelter went into permanent homes;
  • The Center does not have access to eviction data this week.

A new survey from the Urban Institute showcases the urgent need to raise awareness about emergency rental assistance. One key finding suggests that less than 6% of landlords and 11% of tenants have applied for emergency rental assistance.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 49% of Latinx renters, 42% of Black renters, and 18% of people of two or more races who rent have little or no confidence they can pay next month’s rent compared to 11% of white renters. In addition, 12.2% of Latinx homeowners, 15.8% of Black homeowners, 10% of Asian homeowners, and 12.5% of people of two or more races are not caught up on their mortgage payments compared to 5% of white homeowners.

Eviction and foreclosure moratorium status:

Connecticut Eviction Moratorium expired June 30, 2021. However, Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 12D which remains in effect until September 30, 2021. See below for details on the E.O. and the Judicial Branch’s efforts to implement that order.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium has been extended to July 31, 2021. This protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payments because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here.

Current foreclosure moratoriums:

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: (essentially) until August 31, 2021
  • HUD, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Agriculture: until July 31, 2021
  • CFPB’s 2021 Mortgage Servicing Covid-19 Rule: The CFPB Covid-19 servicing rule will implement a foreclosure moratorium from August 31, 2021 until December 31, 2021 that applies to most mortgages, not just federally-backed mortgages. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:
  • Has abandoned the property;
  • Was more than 120 days behind on their mortgage before March 1, 2020;
  • Is more than 120 days behind on their mortgage payments and has not responded to specific required outreach from the mortgage servicer for 90 days; or
  • Has been evaluated for all options other than foreclosure and there are no available options to avoid foreclosure.

Tenants living in multifamily properties with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgage cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent through September 30, 2021. Additional tenant protections include not charging tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent and allowing tenants flexibility in repayment of back rent over time and not demanding a lump sum payment. Finally, landlords evicting for reasons other than nonpayment of rent must give a 30-day notice.

No foreclosure moratorium on mortgages that are not “federally-backed” or non-mortgage foreclosures: Homeowners whose mortgages are not “federally-backed” (except as they might be covered in the future by the CFPB Mortgage Servicing Covid-19 Rule) or who owe condominium fees, real estate taxes, or other real estate related taxes are not protected from foreclosure. Since January 1, 2021, 44% of all foreclosure actions filed were for non-mortgage foreclosures: 11% were filed by municipalities; 14% were filed by condominium associations; 15% were filed by private 3rd parties who bought tax and sewer liens from municipalities.

E.O. 12D and Judicial Branch’s Implementation

Governor Lamont used his emergency powers to extend E.O. 12D to September 30, 2021. The order includes the following provisions:

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

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

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

In addition, the Housing Court Clerks have been told:

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

If during a mediation, if either the landlord or the tenant notifies the mediator that a UniteCT application has been submitted, then mediators will inform the judge about the application so that an order stopping the proceedings, which could include ordering a continuance of the matter for more than 30 days, can enter.

Help for tenants

What E.O. 12D means for tenants:

  • A landlord must complete an application for UniteCT before they send you a Notice to Quit for not paying rent. The notice must include the landlord’s UniteCT application number.
  • If you receive a Notice to Quit for any reason, the notice should include a copy of the UniteCT flyer in Spanish and English.
  • If you receive a Notice to Quit for not paying rent, you will have 30 days to pay the rent or apply for UniteCT. If all the back rent is paid within 30 days your, landlord cannot start an eviction case in court.
  • Any Notice to Quit for not paying rent or for lapse of time (meaning your lease was not renewed) must give you 30 days notice before your landlord can start a case in court.
  • If you receive a Notice to Quit, you never have to move out by the date on the notice. If you are still in the apartment after the date on the notice, your landlord can start a case in court to ask the court for permission to evict you.
  • If you have applied for UniteCT and you have to go to court do the following: 1) check the status of your application before you go to see if you have been approved; 2) have your UniteCT case number ready to share with the court; 3) tell the Judge or Mediator about your UniteCT application even if you have not been approved or you have not finished the application; 4) ask the Judge or the Mediator to pause your case for 30 days while you wait to see if UniteCT will pay your back rent.
  • You may also want to take a screenshot of your application status page and have that ready to share as well. If you have not yet applied for UniteCT, you must do so to receive the 30-day pause.
  • You can apply to UniteCT by going to https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT. Write down your application number so you can share it with the court. Then notify your landlord by phone, email, and text that you have applied to UniteCT and ask them to complete their part of the application.

If the landlord refuses to participate in UniteCT, tenants should do the following:

  • Call the Connecticut Fair Housing Center at 860-247-4400 to do an intake. The Center is reviewing cases where the landlord refused to participate in UniteCT to determine if there is a violation of the Connecticut’s requirement that landlord’s accept housing assistance.
  • Apply for a security deposit and up to 12 months future rent to be paid to a new landlord through UniteCT.

UniteCT Updates

DOH continues to make changes to the UniteCT program to meet the needs of tenants and landlords. Check the UniteCT website and the guidance on the program frequently to get the latest updates. Currently, tenants eligible for UniteCT are entitled to:

  • Reasonable accommodations: People with disabilities who need assistance filling out an application for UniteCT or with any other aspect of the program, should send an email to UniteCTReasonableAccommodation@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328 and ask for a reasonable accommodation such as someone to help fill out an application, or upload documents, or any other change in the application process or program that will help the person who is disabled participate in the program.
  • Qualifying census tract: Applicants for UniteCT who live in census tracts where the majority of people have income at or below 80% of AMI are not required to upload any income documentation. The UniteCT pre-application will make the determination as to whether the applicants lives in a qualifying census tract.
  • Participation in other benefit programs qualify a tenant for UniteCT:  Applicants who receive benefits from Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), and the state supplement will be eligible for UniteCT without additional income verification;
  • $15,000 in rental arrearage payments: Tenants will now be eligible to receive up to $15,000 in rental arrearage payments for any rent owed after March 13, 2020 regardless of the number of months owed. If, based on the application, it is clear the tenant needs more than $15,000 to clear their arrearage, UniteCT will review the application and determine if additional funds will be paid;
  • No need to write-off 15% of arrears:  Landlords will not be required to write-off 15% of the rental arrearage;
  • Tenants not obligated to contribute to future rent for 3 months: If tenants are eligible for prospective rental payments through UniteCT, the tenant will not be required to contribute any rent for the first three months of prospective payments;
  • Public and subsidized tenants eligible:  UniteCT will provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact doh-unitect@ct.gov immediately. At present, UniteCT staff are working with housing authorities to determine if there is a way for housing authorities to submit bulk applications on behalf of their tenants for the program;

The UniteCT mobile tech bus will be at the following locations for the week starting
July 26, 2021:

UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies. There are no stops scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, July 26 and 27, 2021.

Guilford, CT

When:        Wednesday, July 28, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:   Guildford Social Services, 263 Church St, Guilford, CT 06437

Contact:    Tammy DeFrancesco, defrancescot@ci.guilford.ct.us, 203-453-8009

Waterbury, CT

When:        Thursday, July 29, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:   Court House, 300 Grand St. Waterbury CT 06702

Contact:    Denise Martinez, dmartinez@newoppinc.org, 203-598-1781

Bridgeport, CT

When:        Friday, July 30, 10am – 3pm

Location:   New Hope Baptist Church (parking lot), 1100 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604

Contact:    Zeljka Trivunovic, ztrivunovic@alliancect.org, 203-366-8241

Help for homeowners

Connecticut is using federal Homeownership Assistance Funds to assist homeowner’s delinquent on payments: The American Recovery Plan included funding for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Connecticut will receive approximately $123 million. DOH is working with CHFA to pilot a program with three mortgage services that will provide up to $20,000 in grants to homeowners whose income is at or below 80% of AMI and who are socially or economically disadvantaged. A pilot program is expected to begin in July 2021. The full program is expected to roll out in September 2021.

Fannie and Freddie expand use of interest rate reductions:  On June 30, 2021, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that they would expand their interest rate reduction programs. Flex Modification terms will be adjusted for COVID-19 hardships making interest rate reduction possible for eligible borrowers, regardless of the borrower’s loan-to-value ratio.

FHFA closes gap between Fannie and Freddie moratorium and CFPB servicing moratorium: On June 29, 2021, FHFA announced it would extend its moratorium to protect borrowers until CFPB moratorium starts. The CFPB Mortgage Servicing Covid-19 Rule prohibits servicers from making a first notice or filing for foreclosure in most cases covered by the rule before December 31, 2021. Servicers will still be able to make a notice or filing for foreclosure on abandoned properties and those that had a foreclosure referral prior to March 2020, along with certain other exceptions. CFPB’s final rule will take effect August 31, 2021.

CFPB issues rules to facilitate transition as federal protections expire: On June 28, 2021, the CFPB issued rules to transition as federal foreclosure protections expire. The rules take effect on August 31, 2021 and ends on December 31, 2021. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:

  • Has abandoned the property;
  • Was more than 120 days behind on their mortgage before March 1, 2020;
  • Is more than 120 days behind on their mortgage payments and has not responded to specific required outreach from the mortgage servicer for 90 days; or
  • Has been evaluated for all options other than foreclosure and there are no available options to avoid foreclosure.

This protection applies to many, but not all, mortgages.

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Additional resources

Welfare liens on real property will be removed:  As part of legislation passed during the 2021 legislative session, the Department of Social Services is required to remove all liens put on any property as the result of the  receipt of Medicaid or cash assistance. In the past, DSS put a lien on any property (like a house or a condominium) owned by a client, former client, and legally liable relatives (someone who has a legal obligation to support someone who received benefits) who received Medicaid or cash assistance like TANF. The lien was equal to the amount paid in Medicaid or cash benefits. DSS can no longer put liens on property in an effort to recover any money paid out and any liens that are currently on any property must be removed. If you have a lien on your property, write to DSS at DSS.Resources@ct.gov.

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

Outreach:  To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

On July 8, 2021,Governor Lamont asked the Connecticut Legislature to extend his emergency powers until September 30, 2021 to address ongoing issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, he stated:

Extending [Executive Order 12D] for a short time will mean more landlords are likely to receive unpaid rent and more tenants will stay in their homes. Doing so is critically important not only as an economic relief measure, but also because those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum are the least likely to have already been vaccinated, increasing the risk of infection that is already exacerbated by the rising prevalence of the Delta variant.

On July 14, 2021,the Connecticut House and Senate voted to extend the Governor’s emergency powers to September 30, as he had requested. Currently E.O. 12D is scheduled to expire on July 21, 2021. However, we expect the Governor to extend E.O. 12D. The order includes the following provisions:

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

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In today’s update:

Additional_resources

Eviction/mortgage delinquency statistics

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratorium_status

Tech_bus_schedule

UniteCT_Updates

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

  • 3,946 applications or 32% of the total fully submitted applications have been approved for payment of a rental and/or utility arrears. Nearly $31 million has been paid out or about 7.7% of the total funding allocated to Connecticut;
  • 1,305 people have entered homeless shelters. Only 26.7% of those exiting shelter went into permanent homes;
  • Landlords have filed 2,800 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 1,176 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.

A new survey from the Urban Institute showcases the urgent need to raise awareness about emergency rental assistance. One key finding suggests that less than 6% of landlords and 11% of tenants have applied for emergency rental assistance.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 49% of Latinx renters, 42% of Black renters, and 18% of people of two or more races who rent have little or no confidence they can pay next month’s rent compared to 11% of white renters. In addition, 12.2% of Latinx homeowners, 15.8% of Black homeowners, 10% of Asian homeowners, and 12.5% of people of two or more races are not caught up on their mortgage payments compared to 5% of white homeowners.

Eviction and foreclosure moratorium status:

Connecticut Eviction Moratorium expired June 30, 2021. However, Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 12D which we expect will remain in effect until September 30, 2021.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium has been extended to July 31, 2021. This protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payments because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here.

Current foreclosure moratoriums:

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: (essentially) until August 31, 2021
  • HUD, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Agriculture: until July 31, 2021
  • CFPB Final Servicing Rule: The CFPB final servicing rule will implement a foreclosure moratorium from August 31, 2021 until December 2021 that applies to most mortgages, not just federally-backed mortgages. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:
  • Has abandoned the property;
  • Was more than 120 days behind on their mortgage before March 1, 2020;
  • Is more than 120 days behind on their mortgage payments and has not responded to specific required outreach from the mortgage servicer for 90 days; or
  • Has been evaluated for all options other than foreclosure and there are no available options to avoid foreclosure.

Tenants living in multifamily properties with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgage cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent through September 30, 2021. Additional tenant protections include not charging tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent and allowing tenants flexibility in repayment of back rent over time and not demanding a lump sum payment. Finally, landlords evicting for reasons other than nonpayment of rent must give a 30-day notice.

No foreclosure moratorium on mortgages that are not “federally-backed” or non-mortgage foreclosures: Homeowners whose mortgages are not “federally-backed” (except as they might be covered in the future by the CFPB announcement) or who owe condominium fees, real estate taxes, or other real estate related taxes are not protected from foreclosure.

UniteCT Updates

DOH continues to make changes to the UniteCT program to meet the needs of tenants and landlords. Check the UniteCT website and the guidance on the program frequently to get the latest updates. Currently, tenants eligible for UniteCT are entitled to:

  • Reasonable accommodations: People with disabilities who need assistance filling out an application for UniteCT or with any other aspect of the program, should send an email to UniteCTReasonableAccommodation@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328 and ask for a reasonable accommodation such as someone to help fill out an application, or upload documents, or any other change in the application process or program that will help the person who is disabled participate in the program.
  • $15,000 in rental arrearage payments: Tenants will now be eligible to receive up to $15,000 in rental arrearage payments for any rent owed after March 13, 2020 regardless of the number of months owed. If, based on the application, it is clear the tenant needs more than $15,000 to clear their arrearage, UniteCT will review the application and determine if additional funds will be paid;
  • No need to write-off 15% of arrears:  Landlords will not be required to write-off 15% of the rental arrearage;
  • Tenants not obligated to contribute to future rent for 3 months: If tenants are eligible for prospective rental payments through UniteCT, the tenant will not be required to contribute any rent for the first three months of prospective payments;
  • Income proxies reduce need for documentation:  UniteCT will use income proxies to determine eligibility. If an applicant lives in a low-income census block, the applicant will not be required to submit income verification. Instead, the applicant can sign a self-attestation that they have income at or below 80% of AMI and will not have to submit paystubs or tax returns;
  • Participation in other benefit programs qualify a tenant for UniteCT:  Applicants who receive benefits from Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), and the state supplement will be eligible for UniteCT without additional income verification;
  • Public and subsidized tenants eligible:  UniteCT will provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact doh-unitect@ct.gov immediately. At present, UniteCT staff are working with housing authorities to determine if there is a way for housing authorities to submit bulk applications on behalf of their tenants for the program;

The UniteCT mobile tech bus will be at the following locations for the week starting
July 19, 2021:

UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies.

Groton, CT

When:        Monday, July 19, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:   Groton Public Library, 52 Newtown Road, Groton

Contact:    Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org, 860-464-3227

Stonington, CT

When:        Tuesday, July 20, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:   North Stonington Public Schools, 298 Norwich Westerly Road. North Stonington

Contact:    Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org, 860-464-3227

Norwich, CT

When:        Wednesday, July 21, 10am – 3pm

Location:   Three Rivers Community College, 574 New London Turnpike, Norwich

Contact:    Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org, 860-464-3227

Old Saybrook, CT

When:       Thursday, July 22, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:  Grace Church, 336 Main St. Old Saybrook

Contact:    Susan Consoli, susan.consoli@oldsaybrookct.gov, 860-395-3188

Waterbury, CT

When:       Friday, July 23, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:  Martin Luther King Jr Park, 449 North Main St, Waterbury, CT

Contact:    Emmanuel Cruz, ecruz@nhswaterbury.org, 203-558-4547

Help for tenants

What does E.O. 12D mean for tenants:

  • https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT. Write down your application number so you can share it with the court. Then notify your landlord by phone, email, and text that you have applied to UniteCT and ask them to complete their part of the application.

If the landlord refuses to participate in UniteCT, tenants should do the following:

  • Call the Connecticut Fair Housing Center at 860-247-4400 to do an intake. The Center is reviewing cases where the landlord refused to participate in UniteCT to determine if there is a violation of the Connecticut’s requirement that landlord’s accept housing assistance.
  • On the UniteCT application, tenants can now apply for a security deposit and up to 12 months future rent to be paid to a new landlord.

Help for homeowners

Fannie and Freddie expand use of interest rate reductions:  On June 30, 2021, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that they would expand their interest rate reduction programs. Flex Modification terms will be adjusted for COVID-19 hardships making interest rate reduction possible for eligible borrowers, regardless of the borrower’s loan-to-value ratio.

FHFA closes gap between Fannie and Freddie moratorium and CFPB servicing moratorium: On June 29, 2021, FHFA announced it would extend its moratorium to protect borrowers until CFPB moratorium starts. The CFPB final rule prohibits servicers from making a first notice or filing for foreclosure in most cases covered by the rule before December 31, 2021. Servicers will still be able to make a notice or filing for foreclosure on abandoned properties and those that had a foreclosure referral prior to March 2020, along with certain other exceptions. CFPB’s final rule will take effect August 31, 2021.

CFPB issues rules to facilitate transition as federal protections expire: On June 28, 2021, the CFPB issued rules to transition as federal foreclosure protections expire. The rules take effect on August 31, 2021 and ends on December 31, 2021. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:

  • Has abandoned the property;
  • Was more than 120 days behind on their mortgage before March 1, 2020;
  • Is more than 120 days behind on their mortgage payments and has not responded to specific required outreach from the mortgage servicer for 90 days; or
  • Has been evaluated for all options other than foreclosure and there are no available options to avoid foreclosure.

This protection applies to many, but not all, mortgages.

Connecticut is using federal Homeownership Assistance Funds to assist homeowners delinquent on payments: The American Recovery Plan included funding for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Connecticut will receive approximately $123 million. DOH is working with CHFA to pilot a program that will provide up to $20,000 in grants to homeowners whose income is at or below 80% of AMI and who are socially or economically disadvantaged. A pilot program is expected to begin in July 2021. Details will be posted on the DOH and CHFA websites.

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Additional resources

Payments to help with internet access:  The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

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

Outreach:  To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

July 2, 2021

On June 30, 2021, the Connecticut eviction moratorium expired. However, Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 12D which took effect on July 1. The order has the following provisions:

  • UniteCT rental assistance program prior to delivering a notice to quit for nonpayment of rent. The UniteCT case number must be included on the Notice to Quit;
  • if you have applied for UniteCT and you have a case in court, then you should tell the Judge about your UniteCT application. If you have not yet applied for UniteCT you must do so to be covered by this part of these protections provided by the Governor’s recent executive order.

On June 24, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control extended its eviction moratorium until July 31, 2021.

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

  • applications or 28.6% of the total fully submitted applications have been approved for payment of a rental and/or utility arrears. This represents $23 million in expenditures or about 6% of the total funding allocated to Connecticut;
  • people have entered homeless shelters. Only 25.3% of those exiting shelter went into permanent homes;

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 36% of Latinx renters, 41% of Black renters, and 16% of people of two or more races are not caught up on their rent compared to 8% of white renters.

In addition, 23% of Black homeowners and 27% of people of two or more races are not caught up on their mortgage payments compared to 3% of white homeowners.

Consequences of Eviction

The more than  130,000 tenants who currently owe rent as the result of the COVID-19 crisis are likely to suffer the following consequences when evicted:

  • With 2,560 people already living in shelters, many tenants who are evicted will double up with friends or family, or sleep in cars, parks, or other outdoor settings.
  • Recent studies have shown that neighborhoods with the highest eviction rates have the lowest levels of COVID-19 vaccinations. Evictions will result in spreading the virus and its newest variants throughout the State.
  • Since 2017, the Center has been evaluating the effect of eviction when people search for new housing. The testing reveals that an eviction is almost certain to lead to the denial of a new unit. More than 39% of landlords indicated they would not rent to someone with an eviction record while 61% said that if the tenant could prove the eviction was withdrawn or that the tenant was permitted to stay in the unit, they would overlook the eviction record.
  • . A study of mothers evicted during their pregnancies revealed that eviction harms infant health and development.

President Biden announces initiatives to support vulnerable tenants and homeowners:      

The Biden-Harris Administration announced a series of actions to help state and local governments prevent evictions and foreclosures and promote housing stability. The Administration is calling for an acceleration of the distribution of ERA funds to renters and landlords in addition to an all hands-on-deck effort by local governments, courts, community organizations, and the legal community to create alternatives to evictions. The strategies deployed include asking state and local courts to participate in eviction diversion efforts; using ARP money to prevent unnecessary evictions; accelerating and broadening state and local delivery of emergency rental assistance; ensure the 30-day eviction notice requirement for Federally-backed properties is enforced; make clear the Fair Housing Act must be followed; and leverage government channels to reach vulnerable tenants and landlords.

To prevent foreclosures, the Biden administration is extending the foreclosure moratorium for mortgages backed by HUD, the VA, USDA, and the FHFA until July 31, 2021. Once the moratoria end, HUD, VA, and USDA will take additional steps to prevent foreclosures on mortgages backed by those agencies until borrowers are reviewed for COVID-19 streamlined loss mitigation options that are affordable. The FHFA will continue to work with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure that borrowers are evaluated for home retention solutions prior to any referral to foreclosure. 

Eviction and foreclosure moratorium status:

Connecticut Eviction Moratorium expired June 30, 2021. However, Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 12D which took effect on July 1. Tenants: if you have applied for UniteCT and you have a case in court, then you should tell the Judge about your UniteCT application.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium has been extended to July 31, 2021. This protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payments because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here.

Current foreclosure moratoriums:

  • until August 31, 2021
  • until July 31, 2021
  • The CFPB final servicing rule will implement a foreclosure moratorium from August 31, 2021 until December 2021 that applies to most mortgages, not just federally-backed mortgages. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:

Tenants living in multifamily properties with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgage cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent through September 30, 2021. Additional tenant protections include not charging tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent and allowing tenants flexibility in repayment of back rent over time and not demanding a lump sum payment. Finally, landlords evicting for reasons other than nonpayment of rent must give a 30-day notice.

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.

UniteCT Updates

On May 7, 2021, the U.S. Treasury sent out new guidance on nine enhanced policies to directly aid renters, prevent evictions, and help tenants transition to secure housing. In response to the new guidance, DOH has announced that it will make the following changes to the UniteCT program:

  • Tenants will now be eligible to receive up to $15,000 in rental arrearage payments for any rent owed after March 13, 2020 regardless of the number of months owed;
  •   Landlords will not be required to write-off 15% of the rental arrearage;
  • If tenants are eligible for prospective rental payments through UniteCT, the tenant will not be required to contribute any rent for the first three months of prospective payments;
  •   UniteCT will use income proxies to determine eligibility. If an applicant lives in a low-income census block, the applicant will not be required to submit income verification. Instead, the applicant can sign a self-attestation that they have income at or below 80% of AMI and will not have to submit paystubs or tax returns;
  •   Applicants who receive benefits from Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), and the state supplement will be eligible for UniteCT without additional income verification;
  •   UniteCT will provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact doh-unitect@ct.gov immediately;
  • : DOH is holding meetings with landlords to inform them of the changes in the program and to encourage them to participate. Go to www.unitct@ct.gov to see the latest training or to sign up for the next available training.

Applying for UniteCT/advice for completing an application:

  • UniteCT’s emergency rental and utilities assistance is available for individuals with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who have experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications must be made on-line. A list of the documents which must be included with an application can be found here.  Visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT to apply or call 1-844-864-8328 to get a referral to a community agency who may be able to assist tenants and landlords in applying.
  • Tenants denied assistance from UniteCT will receive notice with instructions on how to appeal the denial. A tenant has 14 days from the date of denial to appeal by sending an email to unitectappeal@ct.gov stating the reason for the appeal.
  •   Tenants who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

The UniteCT mobile tech bus will be at the following locations for the week starting
July 6, 2021:

UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies.

Bridgeport, CT

When:        Tuesday, July 6, 10am – 3 pm

Location:   Park City Communities, P.T. Barnum Apartments, 96 Bird St. Bridgeport

Contact:    Mayra Ramirez, mramirez@bridgeporthousing.org, 203-337-8870

New Haven, CT

When:        Wednesday, July 7, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:   NeighborWorks New Horizons, 730 George Street, New Haven

Contact:    Zabrina Roman, Zabrina@nwnh.net, 203-676-5915

Bridgeport, CT

When:        Thursday, July 8, 10am – 3pm

Location:   Park City Communities, Green Homes, 629 Washington Ave. Bridgeport

Contact:    Greg Johnson, gjohnson@parkcitycommunities.org, 203-337-8886

Waterbury, CT

When:       Friday, July 9, 10 am – 3 pm

Location:  Martin Luther King Jr Park, 449 North Main St, Waterbury

Contact:    Emmanuel Cruz, ecruz@nhswaterbury.org, 203-558-4547

Addressing UniteCT Issues

Complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $400 million in federal rental assistance. The Center recommends the following changes to UniteCT to ensure stability and safety for Connecticut’s families: 

  • Treasury guidance states that tenants who do not have adequate documentation of the amount of the rental obligation or the terms of their rental agreement may submit a written attestation. 
  • Treasury guidance states that if an applicant cannot provide written documentation of income, an attestation form can be used.
  •  
  •  The landlord and tenant FAQs on the UniteCT website cannot be translated into Spanish.
  •  In addition, the UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.
  • providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application;

Help for tenants

Visit the Center’s website for fact sheets on the CDC eviction bans and available rental assistance programs. FAQs about evictions, rental assistance, and housing discrimination during the Covid-19 pandemic are also available.

Help for homeowners

Fannie and Freddie expand use of interest rate reductions:  On June 30, 2021, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that they would expand their interest rate reduction programs. Flex Modification terms will be adjusted for COVID-19 hardships making interest rate reduction possible for eligible borrowers, regardless of the borrower’s loan-to-value ratio.

FHFA closes gap between Fannie and Freddie moratorium and CFPB servicing moratorium: On June 29, 2021, FHFA announced it would extend its moratorium to protect borrowers until CFPB moratorium starts. The CFPB final rule prohibits servicers from making a first notice or filing for foreclosure in most cases covered by the rule before December 31, 2021. Servicers will still be able to make a notice or filing for foreclosure on abandoned properties and those that had a foreclosure referral prior to March 2020, along with certain other exceptions. CFPB’s final rule will take effect August 31, 2021.

CFPB issues rules to facilitate transition as federal protections expire: On June 28, 2021, the CFPB issued rules to transition as federal foreclosure protections expire. The rules take effect on August 31, 2021 and ends on December 31, 2021. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:

This protection applies to many, but not all, mortgages.

Connecticut is using federal Homeownership Assistance Funds to assist homeowners delinquent on payments: The American Recovery Plan included funding for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Connecticut will receive approximately $123 million. DOH is working with CHFA to pilot a program that will provide up to $20,000 in grants to homeowners whose income is at or below 80% of AMI and who are socially or economically disadvantaged. A pilot program is expected to begin in July 2021. Details will be posted on the DOH and CHFA websites.

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Additional resources

Payments to help with internet access:  The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

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

Outreach:  To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

June 18, 2021

“If society wants us to keep caring for others, it’s going to have to show a little more care for us.”— author Kate Washington. While these words were said in 2015 regarding women forced to provide health care to their families while also holding down a job and raising children, it is true now more than ever. During the pandemic, working women bore the brunt of the caretaking, childrearing, and remote learning supervision while poor women of color struggled to find the resources to pay for food, rent, clothing, internet access, and transportation.

That society also needs to provide more care for caretakers applies to the legions of people who have been addressing the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it is teachers trying to teach remotely, social service workers helping meet basic needs, or lawyers representing low-income people whose lives have been upended by the pandemic, we are exhausted. The stress of telling people who are desperate “no there is nothing we can do” has worn us down and feels especially insane when there is over $400 million is available to make landlords whole. However, to date the State has been able to distribute less than 3.5% of the funds. There is no reason for a single family to face the disruption and harm resulting from losing their home to eviction and no reason for society to incur the costs associated with evictions. Yet, we are forced to continue to tell our clients that there is often no help available. That there is no way to make the landlord accept money from UniteCT and to stop an eviction. That there is often nothing we can do.

Our feelings are often referred to as burnout. But burnout does not adequately convey what many of us are going through. You can be burned out on your workout routine and it will not affect your family. Feeling helpless and stressed because you cannot address the real and urgent needs of people who are seeking your help not only makes people feel ineffective at work but also affects the rest of their lives. Too many people who have been stalwart advocates and allies are emotionally exhausted and falling by the wayside even as others see hope.

           Fortunately, we do not have to wait for society or the government to care for the caretakers. Social service agencies and the advocates who work with them can take care of their staff by providing more benefits: more time off, more flexible work hours, fewer mandatory meetings, reducing staff email, and even limiting the number of people served. A colleague recently told me he decided not to apply for new funding because his staff could not handle new tasks without causing additional stress and overwork. He chose to treat his program’s biggest financial investment, his staff, the way he treats other financial investments. Just as he would not overwork a printer or copy machine because it will breakdown, he is not overworking staff.

After 15 months of a 300% increase in the need for our services, the successful passage of a Right to Council in eviction cases, and the recognition that burnout puts our most valuable investment at risk, we are taking some time for rest. Staff will continue to work remotely which will give them more flexible hours. Please keep this in mind if there is a delayed response to your email, call, or request for assistance.  Please provide care for the caretakers who have stood beside us and worked to ameliorate the effects of the pandemic and give them permission to take care of themselves.

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Click on the links below for information about UniteCT and help for homeowners and tenants.

Additional resources

Applying for UniteCT

Help for homeowners

Help for tenants

Moratorium status

Tech bus schedule (scroll to the bottom of the page)

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

June 4, 2021

On June 30, the CDC moratorium on some evictions is scheduled to end as is the state eviction moratorium currently in place in Connecticut. As evidenced by the eviction statistics below, people of color have the highest risk of suffering catastrophic consequences once the moratoria end. Most places that lifted their local and state moratoriums have seen a surge of evictions. Indiana had a 658% increase in new evictions filed the week after it lifted its moratorium. Delaware had a 1806% increase in its first quarter without a moratorium. A similar increase would see Connecticut go from 670 monthly filings to between 4,408 and 12,093 monthly filings.

The State’s UniteCT program has done little to prevent the pending onslaught of evictions having paid out $7 million to a little more than 1,000 Connecticut households. It is estimated that at least 75,000 households will need assistance in paying the rent. The Connecticut legislature has the power to stop Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens from losing their homes by 1) extending the eviction moratorium by law; or 2) requiring landlords and tenants to apply for UniteCT before any action is taken to evict a tenant. We urge the legislature to act before the session ends on June 7. Please join us as we work to prevent mass evictions and homelessness.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

In today’s update:

Additional resources

Applying for UniteCT

Changes to UniteCT

Eviction/mortgage delinquency statistics

Fixing UniteCT

Help for homeowners

Help for tenants

Moratorium status

Mortgage foreclosure updates

Problems with UniteCT

Right to counsel

Tech bus schedule

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

  • Landlords have filed 1,919 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 764 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.

Mortgage delinquencies continue to rise: Information gathered by CoreLogic on mortgage delinquencies reveals that Connecticut currently ranks 9th in the country for mortgages that are 90 days or more past due.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 37% of Latinx renters and 57% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 19% of white renters.

In addition, 28% of Latinx homeowners, and 24% of Black homeowners have little or no confidence in their ability to pay their mortgage next month compared to 8% of white homeowners.

Changes to UniteCT

The US Treasury Department published new guidelines to ensure tenants receive help with rent arrearages quickly: On May 7, 2021, the U.S. Treasury sent out new guidance on nine enhanced policies to directly aid renters, prevent evictions, and help tenants transition to secure housing. In response to the new guidance, DOH has announced that it will make the following changes to the UniteCT program:

  • Eliminating the 6-month look back period. Tenants will now be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in rental arrearage payments for any rent owed after March 13, 2020;
  • Landlords will be eligible for payments of up to $10,000 for rental arrearages without any requirement that the landlord write-off 15% of the rental arrearage;
  • If tenants are eligible for prospective rental payments through UniteCT, the tenant will not be required to contribute any rent for the first three months of prospective payments;
  • UniteCT will use income proxies to determine eligibility. If an applicant lives in a low-income census block, the applicant will not be required to submit income verification. Instead, the applicant can sign a self-attestation that they have income at or below 80% of AMI and will not have to submit paystubs or tax returns;
  • Applicants who receive benefits from Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), and the state supplement will be eligible for UniteCT without additional income verification;
  • The income proxy verification is not yet in place;
  • UniteCT will provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact doh-unitect@ct.gov immediately;
  • UniteCT, legal services attorneys, and the Judicial Branch are meeting to expedite a process for tenants with summary process cases in court to get emergency rental assistance.

Applying for UniteCT/advice for completing an application:

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

Tenants denied assistance from UniteCT will receive notice with instructions on how to appeal the denial. A tenant has 14 days from the date of denial to appeal by sending an email to unitectappeal@ct.gov stating the reason for the appeal.

All landlords and tenants should apply for UniteCT to ensure that they receive the assistance they need to stay in their homes and have all eligible rental arrearages paid.

DOH has stated that it will meet with landlords to convince them to accept UniteCT rental payments even if the landlord states they will not participate in the program. Email DOH at doh-unitect@ct.gov if your landlord refuses to participate in the program. 

Tenants who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

Landlords who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

DOH hopes to be able to contact tenants with missing pieces of their application after they have hired additional staff. 

The UniteCT mobile tech bus will be at the following locations for the week starting
June 5, 2021:

UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies.

Milford, CT

When:        Saturday, June 5, 10am – 3pm

Location:   Beth-El Center, 90 New Haven Avenue, Milford, CT 

Contact:    Kelly Fitzgerald, kfitzgerald@uwgnh.org

Norwalk, CT

When:        Monday, June 7, 10am – 3pm

Location:   Norwalk Public Library, 10 Washington Street, Norwalk, CT

Contact:    Lauren Franciamore, laurenfranciamore@p2phelps.org 

Norwalk, CT

When:        Tuesday, June 8, 10am – 3pm

Location:   Norwalk Public Library, 10 Washington Street, Norwalk, CT

Contact:    Maria Escalera, MEscalera@norwalkct.org

Norwalk, CT

When:       Wednesday , June 9, 10am – 3pm

Location:  149 Water St, Norwalk, CT

Contact:    Angel Battle, abattle@alliancect.org

Bridgeport, CT

When:       Thursday, June 10, 10am – 3pm

Location:  East End Food Pantry, 1290 Stratford Ave, Bridgeport CT

Contact:    Keith Williams, 203-260-6731, dorie63@aol.com

Bridgeport, CT

When:       Friday, June 11, 10am – 3pm

Location:  New Hope Baptist church, 1100 Park Ave, Bridgeport, CT

Contact:    Olga De Aza, odeaza@alliancect.org

Waterbury, CT

When:       Saturday, June 12, 10am – 3pm

Location:  New Opportunities, 232 North Elm Street Waterbury, CT

Contact:    Olga De Aza, odeaza@alliancect.org

At a UniteCT bus event on May26, participants report the following:

Under UniteCT, tenants must have written rental agreements to be eligible. If there is no written rental agreement, the landlord and the tenant must sit down together and write one. The rental agreement must have a holdover clause in it meaning that it has to say that the tenant has the right to stay after the agreement expires. Treasury guidance states that tenants who do not have adequate documentation of the amount of the rental obligation or the terms of their rental agreement may submit a written attestation. 

People who are paid in cash may have difficulty qualifying for UniteCT if they do not live in a low-income census tract and if their employer does not wish to provide the documentation. Treasury guidance states that if an applicant cannot provide written documentation of income, an attestation form can be used.

Eviction filings are increasing and move outs that can be avoided are still happening because rental assistance is not getting distributed quickly or broadly. Tenants are in danger of losing their homes to eviction while they await a decision on their UniteCT applications. 

Tenants cannot find out what information is missing from their application. 

Tenants cannot edit incorrect contact information for their landlord making it impossible for some landlords to know about UniteCT and their tenant’s application.

The UniteCT website contains a button to translate all information into Spanish when the site is accessed on a computer, but not when accessed by phone or tablet.  The landlord and tenant FAQs on the UniteCT website cannot be translated into Spanish.

The UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments. In addition, the UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

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

Fixing UniteCT:

Complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $400 million in federal rental assistance.

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

  1. Provide assistance directly to tenants whose landlords refuse to participate in UniteCT as required by the Treasury guidance;
  2. Prohibit evictions and executions for any tenant who has a pending or approved UniteCT application; 
  3. Conduct adequate tenant and landlord outreach;
  4. Provide more intake support for tenants and landlords so that they can navigate the complex UniteCT system;
  5. Ensure that tenants are approved, and appeals granted using equity-based strategies that are not based on whether the tenants “deserve” to be helped:
  6. Include data on all information collected in the UniteCT application down to the census tract level so that everyone will know if the program is reaching the tenants who are most in need;
  7. Remove the requirement that applicants upload a copy of a government identification. Treasury guidelines do not require that applicants have government identification to apply and qualify; 
  8. Require landlords to use an attestation form or check off list that states the monthly rental amount, amount owed, and a statement that the tenant has the right to stay in the unit as opposed to a written rental agreement; 
  9. Fix the technical problems raised above including providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application;
  10. Notify tenants with disabilities that they have a right to reasonable accommodations when trying to fill out and complete an application.

Eviction and foreclosure moratorium status:

Governor Lamont extended the Connecticut Eviction Moratorium through June 30, 2021. This means that landlords cannot start most new eviction cases untilJuly 1, 2021with four major exceptions. Review our fact sheet on the exceptions to the moratorium and make sure to respond to any eviction papers you receive. More information about the eviction process is available here.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction ban will be in place through June 30, 2021. This protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payments because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here.

FHFA extends multifamily forbearance through September 30, 2021:  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to multifamily property owners through June 30, 2021. In addition, tenants living in multifamily properties with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgage cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent through September 30, 2021. Additional tenant protections include not charging tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent and allowing tenants flexibility in repayment of back rent over time and not demanding a lump sum payment. Finally, landlords evicting for reasons other than nonpayment of rent must give a 30-day notice.

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

Help for tenants

Right to counsel passes the Senate:  On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, the Connecticut Senate passed legislation which gives tenants whose income is at or below 80% of State Median Income a right to an attorney during an eviction. On Thursday, May 27, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed the revised bill. The law is now on Governor Lamont’s desk for signing.

Visit the Center’s website for fact sheets on the Connecticut and CDC eviction bans and available rental assistance programs. FAQs about evictions, rental assistance, and housing discrimination during the Covid-19 pandemic are also available.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

The CFPB’s research brief, “Characteristics of Mortgage Borrowers During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” shows the impact of the COVID-19 economic crisis on homeowners of color:

  • Loans in forbearance or delinquent are disproportionately likely to have limited equity, leaving those borrowers close to underwater and unable to easily sell their property. For example, half of all loans in forbearance have a loan-to-value (LTV) greater than 60%, compared to only 34% of current loans.  Borrowers who are behind on their payments but not in forbearance are more than five times as likely to have an LTV greater than 95% than borrowers who are current on their payments.
  • Forbearance and delinquency are significantly more common in communities of color (defined as majority minority census tracts) and lower-income communities (defined by census tract income quartiles).

For older mortgage news and data, please visit our website.

Help for homeowners

Connecticut is using federal Homeownership Assistance Funds to assist homeowners delinquent on payments: The American Recovery Plan included funding for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Connecticut will receive approximately $123 million. DOH is working with CHFA to pilot a program that will provide up to $20,000 in grants to homeowners whose income is at or below 80% of AMI and who are socially or economically disadvantaged. A pilot program is expected to begin in June 2021. Details will be posted on the DOH and CHFA websites.

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Additional resources

Payments to help with internet access:  The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

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

Outreach:  To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

More than a year after the murder of George Floyd, rallies and marches spread out across Connecticut and the nation renewing a call to end entrenched racism and police violence. As a new report from the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities demonstrates, however, a year of protests and marches have not resulted in Connecticut addressing the racism and discrimination that make Connecticut one of the most segregated states in the country. The Connecticut Fair Housing Center calls on policy makers to rise to the challenge of addressing persistent racial inequities in housing through comprehensive land use reform. Recalcitrance on the part of municipalities to take steps to integrate, discriminatory community opposition to affordable housing, and the disingenuous characterization of weakened land use legislation as “a state takeover” of local zoning should inspire and not deter more resolute action. The Center is working to promote integration and strengthen existing communities of color. Please join us.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

In today’s update:

Additional_resources

Applying_for_UniteCT

Changes_to_UniteCT

Eviction/mortgage delinquency statistics

Fixing_UniteCT

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratorium_status

Mortgage_foreclosure_updates

Problems_with_UniteCT

Right_to_counsel

Tech_bus_schedule

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

  • Landlords have filed 1,774 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 682 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.

Mortgage delinquencies continue to rise: Information gathered by CoreLogic on mortgage delinquencies reveals that Connecticut currently ranks 9th in the country for mortgages that are 90 days or more past due.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 37% of Latinx renters and 57% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 19% of white renters.

In addition, 28% of Latinx homeowners, and 24% of Black homeowners have little or no  confidence in their ability to pay their mortgage next month compared to 8% of white homeowners.

Changes to UniteCT

The US Treasury Department published new guidelines to ensure tenants receive help with rent arrearages quickly: On May 7, 2021, the U.S. Treasury sent out new guidance on nine enhanced policies to directly aid renters, prevent evictions, and help tenants transition to secure housing. In response to the new guidance, DOH has announced that it will make the following changes to the UniteCT program:

  • Eliminating the 6-month look back period. Tenants will now be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in rental arrearage payments for any rent owed after March 13, 2020;
  • Landlords will be eligible for payments of up to $10,000 for rental arrearages without any requirement that the landlord write-off 15% of the rental arrearage;
  • If tenants are eligible for prospective rental payments through UniteCT, the tenant will not be required to contribute any rent for the first three months of prospective payments;
  • UniteCT will use income proxies to determine eligibility. If an applicant lives in a low-income census block, the applicant will not be required to submit income verification. Instead, the applicant can sign a self-attestation that they have income at or below 80% of AMI and will not have to submit paystubs or tax returns;
  • Applicants who receive benefits from Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), and the state supplement will be eligible for UniteCT without additional income verification;
  • The income proxy verification will be put in place by June 2, 2021;
  • UniteCT will provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact doh-unitect@ct.gov immediately;
  • UniteCT, legal services attorneys, and the Judicial Branch are meeting to expedite a process for tenants with summary process cases in court to get emergency rental assistance.

Applying for UniteCT/advice for completing an application:

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

Tenants denied assistance from UniteCT will receive notice with instructions on how to appeal the denial. A tenant has 14 days from the date of denial to appeal by sending an email to unitectappeal@ct.gov stating the reason for the appeal.

All landlords and tenants should apply for UniteCT to ensure that they receive the assistance they need to stay in their homes and have all eligible rental arrearages paid.

DOH has stated that it will meet with landlords to convince them to accept UniteCT rental payments even if the landlord states they will not participate in the program. Email DOH at doh-unitect@ct.gov if your landlord refuses to participate in the program. 

Tenants who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

Landlords who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

DOH hopes to be able to contact tenants with missing pieces of their application after they have hired additional staff. 

The UniteCT mobile tech bus will be at the following locations during the week of May 31, 2021:

UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies.

West Hartford, CT

When: Tues., June 1, 10am – 3pm

Location: Faxon Public Library, 1073 New Britain Avenue, West Hartford CT

Contact: Keren Paquette, keren.paquette@westhartfordct.gov

Norwalk, CT

When:  Wed. June 2, 10am – 3pm

Location:  Norwalk Public Library, 10 Washington Street, Norwalk, CT

Contact:  Lauren Franciamore, laurenfranciamore@p2phelps.org

New Haven, CT

When:       Thursday, June 3, 10am – 3pm

Location:  Wilson Library, 303 Washington Ave, New Have

Contact:    Gina Bingham, gbingham@nhfpl.org

At a UniteCT bus event on May26, participants report the following:

  • Error messages when registering people for the UniteCT Portal. The error came after the tenant made their password and then tried to log in after. The message said ‘The email was not registered’ even though the tenant had received a confirmation message at the email address.
  • Tenants are still frustrated with how many documents they need to provide to qualify for assistance;
  • The Wi-Fi worked  better than the previous week;
  • The process developed for scanning in tenant documents is quicker and more efficient;
  • The bus needs:
    • More tables
    • More chairs
    • Better access to restroom facilities (Could not use the bathroom in the school)
    • More volunteers to help
  • Over 100 people stopped by the bus. Not everyone that showed up completed their applications on site, but everyone was seen and spoken to. Some needed to get more documents and were given the flyer with information on the required documents;
  • The time for applications was extended past 3 pm to service more clients;
  • The need for outreach is still great in the New Haven area.

Under UniteCT, tenants must have written rental agreements to be eligible. If there is no written rental agreement, the landlord and the tenant must sit down together and write one. The rental agreement must have a holdover clause in it meaning that it has to say that the tenant has the right to stay after the agreement expires. Treasury guidance states that tenants who do not have adequate documentation of the amount of the rental obligation or the terms of their rental agreement may submit a written attestation. 

People who are paid in cash may have difficulty qualifying for UniteCT if they do not live in a low-income census tract and if their employer does not wish to provide the documentation. Treasury guidance states that if an applicant cannot provide written documentation of income, an attestation form can be used.

Eviction filings are increasing and move outs that can be avoided are still happening because rental assistance is not getting distributed quickly or broadly. Tenants are in danger of losing their homes to eviction while they await a decision on their UniteCT applications. 

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

The UniteCT website contains a button to translate all information into Spanish when the site is accessed on a computer, but not when accessed by phone or tablet.  The landlord and tenant FAQs on the UniteCT website cannot be translated into Spanish.

The UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments. In addition, the UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

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

Fixing UniteCT:

Complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $400 million in federal rental assistance.

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

  1. Provide assistance directly to tenants whose landlords refuse to participate in UniteCT as required by the Treasury guidance;
  2. Prohibit evictions and executions for any tenant who has a pending or approved UniteCT application; 
  3. Conduct adequate tenant and landlord outreach;
  4. Provide more intake support for tenants and landlords so that they can navigate the complex UniteCT system;
  5. Ensure that tenants are approved, and appeals granted using equity-based strategies that are not based on whether the tenants “deserve” to be helped:
  6. Include data on all information collected in the UniteCT application down to the census tract level so that everyone will know if the program is reaching the tenants who are most in need;
  7. Remove the requirement that applicants upload a copy of a government identification. Treasury guidelines do not require that applicants have government identification to apply and qualify; 
  8. Require landlords to use an attestation form or check off list that states the monthly rental amount, amount owed, and a statement that the tenant has the right to stay in the unit as opposed to a written rental agreement; 
  9. Fix the technical problems raised above including providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application;
  10. Notify tenants with disabilities that they have a right to reasonable accommodations when trying to fill out and complete an application.

Eviction and foreclosure moratorium status:

Governor Lamont extended the Connecticut Eviction Moratorium through June 30, 2021. This means that landlords cannot start most new eviction cases untilJuly 1, 2021with four major exceptions. Review our fact sheet on the exceptions to the moratorium and make sure to respond to any eviction papers you receive. More information about the eviction process is available here.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction ban will be in place through June 30, 2021. This protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payments because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here.

States where local moratoriums have been lifted have seen a spike in eviction filings: The CT Coalition of Property Owners and the CT Property Owners Alliance stated in their press release that there have been no tsunami of evictions in states where the eviction moratorium have been lifted. But most places that lifted their local and state moratoriums have seen a surge of evictions.

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

Help for tenants

Right to counsel passes the Senate:  On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, the Connecticut Senate passed legislation which gives tenants whose income is at or below 80% of State Median Income a right to an attorney during an eviction. The bill that passed is similar to the one approved by the Connecticut Housing of Representatives earlier in May. Because of a few minor changes to the version passed by the Senate, the bill went back to the House for final action. On Thursday, May 27, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed the revised bill. The law is now on Governor Lamont’s desk for signing.

Visit the Center’s website for fact sheets on the Connecticut and CDC eviction bans and available rental assistance programs. FAQs about evictions, rental assistance, and housing discrimination during the Covid-19 pandemic are also available.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

The CFPB’s research brief, “Characteristics of Mortgage Borrowers During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” shows the impact of the COVID-19 economic crisis on homeowners of color:

  • Borrowers in forbearance or delinquent are disproportionately Black and Hispanic. For example, 33% of borrowers in forbearance (and 27% of delinquent borrowers) are Black or Hispanic, while only 18% of the total population of mortgage borrowers are Black or Hispanic.
  • Loans in forbearance or delinquent are disproportionately likely to have high loan-to-value (LTV) and limited equity, leaving them vulnerable to being underwater and being unable to easily sell their property so as to limit their debt burden. For example, half of all loans in forbearance have an LTV greater than 60%, compared to only 34% of current loans.  Borrowers who are behind on their payments but not in forbearance are more than five times as likely to have an LTV greater than 95% than borrowers who are current on their payments.
  • Forbearance and delinquency are significantly more common in communities of color (defined as majority minority census tracts) and lower-income communities (defined by census tract income quartiles).

For older mortgage news and data, please visit our website.

Help for homeowners

Connecticut is using federal Homeownership Assistance Funds to assist homeowners delinquent on payments: The American Recovery Plan included funding for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Connecticut will receive approximately $123 million. DOH is working with CHFA to pilot a program that will provide up to $20,000 in a grant to homeowners whose income is at or below 80% of AMI and who are socially or economically disadvantaged. A pilot program is expected to begin in June 2021. Details will be posted on the DOH and CHFA websites.

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Additional resources

Payments to help with internet access:  The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

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

Outreach:  To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

This week a press release issued by the CT Coalition of Property Owners and the CT Property Owners Alliance in apparent error that accused tenants of free-loading during the pandemic, criticized the eviction moratorium and the UniteCT rental assistance program, and asserted that the Governor “needs his ass-kicked” in a cage match. This attitude towards tenants and the refusal to recognize the economic impact of the pandemic on tenants illustrates both the need for a Right to Counsel for tenants facing eviction as well as why the Governor and/or Connecticut legislature should require landlords to participate in UniteCT. Please join us as we work to ensure that tenants’ rights are protected.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

In today’s update:

Additional_resources

Applying_for_UniteCT

Eviction/mortgage delinquency statistics

Fixing_UniteCT

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratorium_status

Mortgage_foreclosure_updates

Problems_with_UniteCT

Tech_bus_schedule

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

  • Landlords have filed 1,631 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 606 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.

Mortgage delinquencies continue to rise: Information gathered by CoreLogic on mortgage delinquencies reveals that Connecticut currently ranks 9th in the country for mortgages that are 90 days or more past due.

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

In addition, 22% of Latinx homeowners, and 11% of Black homeowners have slight confidence in their ability to pay their mortgage next month compared to 2% of white homeowners. The CFPB has just released a new report that expands on the effect of the COVID-19 economic crisis on homeowners and homeowners of color.

Changes to UniteCT

The US Treasury Department published new guidelines to ensure tenants receive help with rent arrearages quickly: On May 7, 2021, the U.S. Treasury sent out new guidance on nine enhanced policies to directly aid renters, prevent evictions, and help tenants transition to secure housing. To ensure that emergency rental assistance quickly reaches the tenants who need it most, the new guidance:

  1. Directs programs to offer assistance directly to renters if landlords choose not to participate.
  2. Cuts in half the wait time for assistance to renters when landlords do not participate.
  3. Allows tenants to apply directly for assistance even if their landlord won’t participate.
  4. Encourages financial assistance to support renters finding new housing.
  5. Protects renters from eviction while payments are being made on their behalf.
  6. Prohibits grantees from establishing documentation requirements that would reduce participation.
  7. Reduces burdensome documentation by allowing programs to verify eligibility of low-income renters based on readily available information or “proxies.”
  8. Prohibits programs from denying assistance to eligible residents solely because they live in federally assisted housing.
  9. Requires programs to document their prioritization of assistance to the renters most in need.

In response to the new guidance, UniteCT has announced that it will no longer require 8 weeks of income verification. Effective immediately, applicants need only provide 4 weeks of income verification. UniteCT workers are currently looking at applications that have been submitted to determine if any can be moved toward approval because the applicant has submitted 4 weeks of income verification.

In addition, UniteCT will now provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact doh-unitect@ct.gov immediately.

UniteCT has not yet announced other changes to make the program consistent with the new Treasury guidance.

Applying for UniteCT/advice for completing an application:

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

Tenants denied assistance from UniteCT will receive notice with instructions on how to appeal the denial. A tenant has 14 days from the date of denial to appeal by sending an email to unitectappeal@ct.gov stating the reason for the appeal.

All landlords and tenants should apply for UniteCT to ensure that they receive the assistance they need to stay in their homes and have all eligible rental arrearages paid.

DOH has stated that it will meet with landlords to convince them to accept UniteCT rental payments even if the landlord states they will not participate in the program. Email DOH at doh-unitect@ct.gov if your landlord refuses to participate in the program. 

Tenants who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

Landlords who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

DOH hopes to be able to contact tenants with missing pieces of their application after they have hired additional staff. 

The UniteCT mobile tech bus will be at the following locations during the week of May 24, 2021:

UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies.

New Britain, CT

When: Mon, May 24, 10am – 3pm

Location: Neighborhood Housing Services, 223 Broad Street, New Britain

Contact: Chris Sanders, csanders@nhsnb.org, 860-307-1122

Westbrook, CT

When:  Tues. May 25, 11am – 3pm

Location:  St Mark’s Church – Westbrook Food Pantry, 222 McVeagh Rd., Westbrook

Contact:    Robert Eburg, rebury@snet.net

New Haven, CT

When:       Wednesday, May 26, 10am – 3pm

Location:  Wexler Grant Community School, 55 Foote St., New Haven

Contact:    Daniel Diaz, daniel.diaz@new-haven.k12.ct.us

Hartford, CT

When         Thurs., May 27, 10am – 1pm

Location:   Community Renewal Team, 556 Windsor Street, Hartford

Contact:    Christopher McCluskey, mccluskeyc@crtct.org. (860)559-7384

Problems encountered by UniteCT applicants:

Issues encountered by applicants at a recent UniteCT bus event:

  • The Wi-Fi in the bus is not strong. It buffers a lot during document uploads.
  • Many people do not have email addresses, do not understand how to check email once an address is set up, and cannot keep track of their passwords.
  • Many applicants using the mobile app on their phones had difficulty entering passwords into the portal or getting the portal to accept the password they had created.
  • Many smart phones do not have the technology to create documents that are accepted by UniteCT.
  • Applicants using a mobile phone were frequently kicked out of the UniteCT app while trying to complete an application.

Feedback from people attending a recent UniteCT bus event:

  • A case number created when the tenant creates an application would be best because it’s harder to track applications by name.
  • Few tenants are able to complete their applications when they come to the bus because it takes so long and there are so many documents needed.
  • “They NEED more people to help with applications!”
  • “It’s awful. I wish I was able to call someone from my home and give them this information. I’m 76 years old and my phone don’t have internet on it. They (DOH) don’t realize how inconvenient this is.”
  • “I called the help line and didn’t get any help. I called the agency I was referred to . . . and they never got back to me. I called and I left voicemails every day for a week. There is no one to get in contact with. Thank God you guys are here today.”
  • “I feel like I need to sit with someone to get this done.”
  • “Who do you call to ask questions?”
  • “I kept getting an error message every time I tried to apply from my phone. I don’t have a computer at home.”
  • “I just walked by today and saw that you guys were here. I had no idea this was a program to help. I’m going to try to get my documents so I can come back. How they getting the word out and we don’t know about it?”
  • “I’m frustrated and I need help. I’ve been trying to get help since the program in December. No one got back to me from that one and now I have to do all this all over again.”

Under UniteCT, tenants must have written rental agreements to be eligible. If there is no written rental agreement, the landlord and the tenant must sit down together and write one. The rental agreement must have a holdover clause in it meaning that it has to say that the tenant has the right to stay after the agreement expires. Treasury guidance states that tenants who do not have adequate documentation of the amount of the rental obligation or the terms of their rental agreement may submit a written attestation. 

The attestation form on the UniteCT website cannot be used in place of paystubs or other proof of employment. This prevents people who are paid in cash from qualifying for UniteCT if their employer does not wish to provide the documentation.  Treasury guidance states that if an applicant cannot provide written documentation of income, an attestation form can be used.

Eviction filings are increasing and move outs that can be avoided are still happening because rental assistance is not getting distributed quickly or broadly.  

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

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

The UniteCT website contains a button to translate all information into Spanish when the site is accessed on a computer, but not when accessed by phone or tablet.  The landlord and tenant FAQs on the UniteCT website cannot be translated into Spanish.

The UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments. In addition, the UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

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

Fixing UniteCT:

Complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $400 million in federal rental assistance.

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

  1. Follow the spirit and the intent of the new Treasury guidance which prioritizes getting assistance to tenants who are in danger of losing their homes to eviction quickly and without excessive application and documentation requirements;
  2. Provide assistance directly to tenants whose landlords refuse to participate in UniteCT as required by the Treasury guidance;
  3. Prohibit evictions and executions for any tenant who has a pending or approved UniteCT application; 
  4. Conduct adequate tenant and landlord outreach;
  5. Provide more intake support for tenants and landlords so that they can navigate the complex UniteCT system;
  6. Ensure that tenants are approved and appeals granted using equity-based strategies that is not based on whether the tenants “deserve” to be helped:
  7. Include data on all information collected in the UniteCT application down to the census tract level so that everyone will know if the program is reaching the tenants who are most in need;
  8. Remove the requirement that landlords forgive arrears and instead require those arrears to be treated as consumer debt; 
  9. Allow tenants to use the attestation form to certify their income if they receive cash income or cannot get documentation from an employer; 
  10. Remove the requirement that applicants upload a copy of any i.d. Treasury guidelines do not require that applicants have i.d. to apply and qualify; 
  11. Require landlords to use an attestation form or check off list that states the monthly rental amount, amount owed, and a statement that the tenant has the right to stay in the unit; 
  12. Automatically qualify tenants receiving TANF, General Assistance, SNAP and/or living in public or subsidized housing to apply without any additional documentation regarding income; 
  13. Fix the technical problems raised above including providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application;
  14. Notify tenants with disabilities that they have a right to reasonable accommodations when trying to fill out and complete an application.

Eviction and foreclosure moratorium status:

Governor Lamont extended the Connecticut Eviction Moratorium through June 30, 2021. This means that landlords cannot start most new eviction cases until July 1, 2021with four major exceptions. Review our fact sheet on the exceptions to the moratorium and make sure to respond to any eviction papers you receive. More information about the eviction process is available here.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction ban will be in place through June 30, 2021. This protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payments because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here.

States where local moratoriums have been lifted have seen a spike in eviction filings: The CT Coalition of Property Owners and the CT Property Owners Alliance stated in their press release that there have been no tsunami of evictions in states where the eviction moratorium have been lifted. But, most places that lifted their local and state moratoriums have seen a surge of evictions.

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

Help for tenants

Visit the Center’s website for fact sheets on the Connecticut and CDC eviction bans and available rental assistance programs. FAQs about evictions, rental assistance, and housing discrimination during the Covid-19 pandemic are also available.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

The CFPB’s research brief, “Characteristics of Mortgage Borrowers During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” shows the impact of the COVID-19 economic crisis on homeowners of color:

  • Borrowers in forbearance or delinquent are disproportionately Black and Hispanic. For example, 33% of borrowers in forbearance (and 27% of delinquent borrowers) are Black or Hispanic, while only 18% of the total population of mortgage borrowers are Black or Hispanic.
  • Loans in forbearance or delinquent are disproportionately likely to have high loan-to-value (LTV) and limited equity, leaving them vulnerable to being underwater and being unable to easily sell their property so as to limit their debt burden. For example, half of all loans in forbearance have an LTV greater than 60%, compared to only 34% of current loans.  Borrowers who are behind on their payments but not in forbearance are more than five times as likely to have an LTV greater than 95% than borrowers who are current on their payments.
  • Forbearance and delinquency are significantly more common in communities of color (defined as majority minority census tracts) and lower-income communities (defined by census tract income quartiles).

For older mortgage news and data, please visit our website.

Help for homeowners

USDA accepting applications from single-family borrowers who have a USDA forbearance: Beginning May 17, 2021, the USDA will accept applications from existing Section 502 and Section 504 direct loan borrowers, to refinance outstanding single-family loans which have been in an approved COVID-19 moratorium. To be eligible for refinance under this temporary authority, borrowers must be (or have been) on a COVID-19 moratorium.

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Additional resources

Payments to help with internet access:  The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

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

Outreach:  To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

Real Issues – John Souza

Contrary to the sentiments in the press release mistakenly shared by the CT Coalition of Property Owners and the CT Property Owners Alliance in error, tenants in Connecticut need assistance because they have been severely impacted by the economic effects of the pandemic and an unbalanced economy that concentrates wealth at the top. The State should not make policy based on harmful tropes like those found in the press release claiming, “the people that are not paying never intended to pay so there is no reason for them to apply for the funds, these tenants are most of the 19,000 that try to live for free annually in CT… once they apply, they need to start paying rent again and that’s not what they want to do.” This attitude illustrates both the need for a Right to Counsel for tenants facing eviction as well as why the Governor and/or Connecticut legislature should require landlords to participate in UniteCT. Tenants must be protected from the landlords who believe that the Governor “needs his ass-kicked” because he dared to protect vulnerable Connecticut residents. Please join us as we work to ensure that tenants are protected from the landlords who believe tenants deserve to be punished for being poor.

Here is the link to the original post made by John Souza, President – CT Coalition of Property Owners: https://bit.ly/3wmeUnS

The following is an additional statement by John Souza:

– Since the beginning of the moratorium,  housing providers have been severely restricted from collecting rents  even though there have been multiple stimulus payments and never ending extended unemployment benefits. We have been asked to provide a public service without much public help….Now many are at the breaking point! 

– It’s time to end the eviction moratorium to help flush out the unscrupulous residents taking advantage of our state’s good will and let the court system work… If we combine this with an expansion of the UniteCT program to remove caps on amounts and allow all arrearages to be paid to incentivize property providers to participate in the program, then no truly needy families will lose their homes.

– Our goals are the same as the tenant advocates: To keep good people living in peace in their homes but we need to get the tools and funds to do it.  If the eviction moratorium was a public benefit in hard times, then the Governor should fund it fully now. Property providers can’t continue to carry this burden alone any longer. 

– Because we can’t remove  a tenant who is terrorizing other tenants,  the normal checks and balances of a well-run apartment community have broken down and the most vulnerable residents are held hostage by the governor’s good intentions gone bad. End the moratorium and open the courts fully to allow good tenants to live in peace.

– 35 states including Massachusetts, have lifted their moratoriums  and there hasn’t been a flood of homelessness because the rental assistance programs were ready to assist the truly needy.

The following is a statement from Ann Baldwin, President of Baldwin Media Strategic Communications: “I want to profusely apologize for inappropriate comments that were sent out earlier this afternoon.  These were never intended to be included in any press outreach. This is not the way that any of the landlords who are truly suffering would want to be portrayed.  Unfortunately, the words of one person during a round table discussion got included in the message.

Somehow they were inadvertently included into talking points that were sent out.  These were NOT the words of John Souza, President of the CT Coalition of Property Owners and to him we also apologize.

This was a very blatant and unfortunate mistake made by a person in my agency, however I take full responsibility for this error.  Below are the intended remarks. Thank you for your understanding.”

Here is a statement given by Dirk Perrefort, Media Contact on behalf of the Connecticut Coalition of Property Owners:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Connecticut Coalition of Property Owners President Apologizes For Statements Inaccurately Attributed To Him

WEST HARTFORD, CT – John Souza, president of the Connecticut Coalition of Property Owners, issued a sincere apology today for statements that were inaccurately attributed to him in a press release distributed Wednesday.

“I cannot express enough the profound distress and utter disappointment for words released to the media that were not my own and do not express the feelings of myself or the organization,” Souza said. “A press release sent out Wednesday by a media consultant inaccurately attributed statements to me that were not my own. I would never condone violence against the Governor or anyone else, even in jest.”

“I have great respect for the Governor and the work that he’s done for Connecticut,” he added. “I would love to continue working with the administration, like I have with past administrations, to ensure the needs of landlords are met while maintaining a safe and quality rental housing stock for Connecticut residents.”

Souza said he and the organization will continue to work towards helping landlords and tenants during this difficult time and is asking state officials to expand the UniteCT program.

“Our goals are the same as the tenant advocates: To keep good people living in peace in their homes, but we need to get the tools and funds to do it. If we open the eviction courts, combined with an expansion of the UniteCT program that removes caps on amounts and allow all arrearages to be paid to incentivize property providers, then no truly needy families will lose their homes.”

35 states including Massachusetts, have lifted their moratoriums.

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

On May 12, 2011, the Connecticut House of Representatives took the historic step of voting to create a right to counsel for tenants at a time when thousands of families are currently behind on their rent as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll on Americans. Currently, nine cities have right to counsel programs for tenants in eviction proceedings and three states — Connecticut, Maryland and Washington — are moving forward with legislation to create such programs. The Center wants to thank Representative Brandan McGee for guiding this historic legislation through the legislative process and House Speaker Matt Ritter for ensuring that it was brought to a vote. The bill will be taken up by the Connecticut Senate next where it is expected to pass. Please join us as we work to ensure that tenants are able to keep their homes.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

In today’s update:

Additional_resources

Applying_for_UniteCT

Eviction/mortgage delinquency_statistics

Fixing_UniteCT

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratorium_status

Problems_with_UniteCT

Tech_bus_schedule

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

  • Landlords have filed 1,494 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 548 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.

Mortgage delinquencies continue to rise: Information gathered by CoreLogic on mortgage delinquencies reveals that Connecticut currently ranks 9th in the country for mortgages that are 90 days or more past due.

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

In addition, 22% of Latinx homeowners, and 11% of Black homeowners have slight confidence in their ability to pay their mortgage next month compared to 2% of white homeowners.

Changes to UniteCT

The US Treasury Department published new guidelines to ensure tenants receive help quickly: On May 7, 2021, the U.S. Treasury sent out new guidance on nine enhanced policies to directly aid renters, prevent evictions, and help tenants transition to secure housing. To ensure that emergency rental assistance quickly reaches the tenants who need it most, the new guidance:

  1. Directs programs to offer assistance directly to renters if landlords choose not to participate.
  2. Cuts in half the wait time for assistance  to renters when landlords do not participate
  3. Allows tenants to apply directly for assistance even if their landlord won’t participate
  4. Encourages financial assistance to support renters finding new housing.
  5. Protects renters from eviction while payments are being made on their behalf.
  6. Prohibits grantees from establishing documentation requirements that would reduce participation.
  7. Reduces burdensome documentation by allowing programs to verify eligibility of low-income renters based on readily available information or “proxies.”
  8. Prohibits programs from denying assistance to eligible residents solely because they live in federally assisted housing.
  9. Requires programs to document their prioritization of assistance to the renters most in need.

In response to the new guidance, UniteCT has announced that it will no longer require 8 weeks of income verification. Effective immediately, applicants need only provide 4 weeks of income verification. UniteCT workers are currently looking at applications that have been submitted to determine if any can be moved toward approval because the applicant has submitted 4 weeks of income verification.

In addition, UniteCT will now provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact doh-unitect@ct.gov immediately.

UniteCT has not yet announced other changes to make the program consistent with the new Treasury guidance.

Applying for UniteCT/advice for completing an application:

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

Tenants denied assistance from UniteCT will receive notice with instructions on how to appeal the denial. A tenant has 14 days from the date of denial to appeal by sending an email to unitectappeal@ct.gov stating the reason for the appeal.

All landlords and tenants should apply for UniteCT to ensure that they receive the assistance they need to stay in their homes and have all eligible rental arrearages paid.

DOH has stated that it will meet with landlords to convince them to accept UniteCT rental payments even if the landlord states they will not participate in the program. Email DOH at doh-unitect@ct.gov if your landlord refuses to participate in the program. 

Tenants who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

Landlords who have not received a confirmation email once their application is submitted should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328.

DOH hopes to be able to contact tenants with missing pieces of their application after they have hired additional staff. 

The UniteCT mobile tech bus will be at the following locations during the week of May 17, 2021:

UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies.

New Haven, CT

When: Mon, May 17, 10am – 3pm

Location: 133 Hazel Street, New Haven CT 06511
Contact: Robin Ladouceur, 203-777-6925 Ext 217

Bristol, CT

When:  Tues. May 18, 10am – 3pm

Location:  Bristol Youth and Community Services, 51 High Street, Bristol, CT 06010

Contact:    Aubrey Lee Minkler; aubreyminkler@bristol.gov

Guilford, CT

When:       Wednesday, May 19, 10am – 3pm

Location:  St. George Church, 33 Whitfield Street, Guilford, CT

Contact:    Tammy DeFrancesco, defrancescot@ci.guilford

Branford, CT

When         Thurs., May 20, 10am – 1pm

Location:   The Community Dining Room, 30 Harrison Avenue, Branford CT 06401

Contact:    Bobbi Jo; bevans@bhcare.org, 203-533-8456

Problems encountered by UniteCT applicants:

Under UniteCT, tenants must have written rental agreements to be eligible. If there is no written rental agreement, the landlord and the tenant must sit down together and write one. The rental agreement must have a holdover clause in it meaning that it has to say that the tenant has the right to stay after the agreement expires. Treasury guidance states that tenants who do not have adequate documentation of the amount of the rental obligation or the terms of their rental agreement may submit a written attestation. 

The attestation form on the UniteCT website cannot be used in place of paystubs or other proof of employment. This prevents people who are paid in cash from qualifying for UniteCT if their employer does not wish to provide the documentation.  Treasury guidance states that if an applicant cannot provide written documentation of income, an attestation form can be used.

Eviction filings are increasing and move outs that can be avoided are still happening because rental assistance is not getting distributed quickly or broadly.  

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

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

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

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

The UniteCT website contains a button to translate all information into Spanish when the site is accessed on a computer, but not when accessed by phone or tablet.  The landlord and tenant FAQs on the UniteCT website cannot be translated into Spanish.

Tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application because of lack of reliable internet access. In addition, the UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments. In addition, the UniteCT website does not provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

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

Fixing UniteCT:

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

Unfortunately, complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $400 million in federal rental assistance.

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

  1. Prohibit evictions and executions for any tenant who has a pending or approved UniteCT application; 
  2. Conduct adequate tenant and landlord outreach;
  3. Provide more intake support for tenants and landlords so that they can navigate the complex UniteCT system;
  4. Ensure that tenants are approved and appeals granted using equity-based strategies that is not based on whether the tenants “deserve” to be helped:
  5. Publish weekly data about the program o allow analysis of  the program’s  reach to Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents. This should include household demographics and georgraphic location of applications and data on approvals and denials.;
  6. The program encourages tenants to come to agreement on arrears not covered by UniteCT but also requires landlords to forgive a percentage of arrears; to make the program less confusing, remove the requirement that landlords forgive arrears and instead require those arrears to be treated as consumer debt; 
  7. Allow tenants to use the attestation form to certify their income if they receive cash income or cannot get documentation from an employer; 
  8. Remove the requirement that applicants upload a copy of any i.d. Treasury guidelines do not require that applicants have i.d. to apply and qualify.; 
  9. Remove the requirement that the tenant have a written rental agreement or work with a landlord to create a rental agreement. Instead, require landlords to use an attestation form or check off list that states the monthly rental amount, amount owed, and a statement that the tenant has the right to stay in the unit; 
  10. Automatically qualify tenants receiving TANF, General Assistance, SNAP and/or living in public or subsidized housing to apply without any additional documentation regarding income; 
  11. Fix the technical problems raised above including providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application;
  12. Notify tenants with disabilities that they have a right to reasonable accommodations when trying to fill out and complete an application.

Eviction and foreclosure moratorium status:

The Connecticut legislature extended the Governor’s emergency powers through July 20, 2021. This means the Governor has the authority to extend the moratorium on evictions but has yet announced doing so. This means that your landlord cannot start a new eviction case against you untilMay 21, 2021with some important exceptions. Review our fact sheet on the exceptions and make sure to respond to any eviction papers you receive. More information about the eviction process is available here.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction ban will be in place through June 30, 2021. This protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payments because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here.

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

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

Help for tenants

Visit the Center’s website for fact sheets on the Connecticut and CDC eviction bans and available rental assistance programs. FAQs about evictions, rental assistance, and housing discrimination during the Covid-19 pandemic are also available.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

Mortgage mediation program in place until 2029:  On May 12, 2021, the Connecticut Senate passed a bill which extended the mortgage foreclosure mediation program until 2029. Mediation is mandatory for lenders who bring a foreclosure action and is effective at keeping homeowners in their homes while ensuring that lenders are paid.

For older mortgage news and data, please visit our website.

Help for homeowners

Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.

Additional resources

The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

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

Outreach:  To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at rrattray@ctfairhousing.org

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