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.

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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

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

A series of articles published by CT Mirror examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on single mothers. As the pressure of supporting their families, caring for children, and staying healthy has increased, single mothers have had little help. Even when supports are provided by federal, state, or local governments, applying and qualifying for those benefits is difficult and filled with seemingly impossible requirements. Women are belittled for failing to apply for food stamps, evicted for failing to apply for rental assistance, and told they are endangering their families’ health by working in the service industry. The single mothers who have sacrificed so much during the last 14 months deserve our support free of judgment. The Center’s work ensures that single mothers and families with children have access to the housing of their choice free from discrimination. Please join us.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

In today’s update:

Additional_resources

Applying_for_UniteCT

Eviction_statistics

Fixing_UniteCT

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratorium_status

Problems_with_UniteCT

Right_to_counsel

Tech_bus_schedule

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

  • Landlords have filed 1,322 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 496 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 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.

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.

The Department of Housing (DOH) has stated tenants who have housing subsidies should continue to apply and seek assistance from UniteCT.  On Tuesday, May 4, DOH announced that “an eligible household that occupies a federally subsidized residential unit may receive UniteCT assistance, provided that UniteCT funds are not applied to costs that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal assistance. If an eligible household received a monthly federal subsidy and the rent is adjusted according to changes in income, the renter household may receive UniteCT financial assistance for the tenant-owed portion of rent or utilities that is not subsidized. An analysis of income and sources of assistance will be performed in order to ensure no duplication of benefits exists.” The Center understands this to mean that everyone is eligible to apply for UniteCT. However, tenants who have federal or state subsidies may not qualify for assistance. If a tenant is told they do not qualify for assistance, they will be given the right to appeal this decision.

  • 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 in Eastern, CT next week:

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.

TECH BUS SCHEDULE, WEEK OF MAY 10, 2021

Norwich, CT

When: Mon, May 10, 10am – 3pm

Location: St. Mary’s Church, 70 Central Ave, Norwich, CT 06360
Contact: Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org

Uncasville

When:  Tues, May 11, 10am – 12pm

Location: Montville Senior Center, 12 Maple Ave, Uncasville, CT 06382

Contact: Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org

Niantic

When:  Tues, May 11, 1pm – 3pm

Location: East Lyme Senior Center, 37 Society Rd. Niantic 06357

Contact: Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org

New London

When: Wed, May 12, 10am – 3pm

Location:  Jennings Elementary School, 50 Mercer St, New London, CT 06320

Contact:  Jennifer Blanco, jennifer.blanco@uwsect.org

Problems encountered by UniteCT applicants:

  • UniteCT guidelines and FAQs state that applicants are ineligible if the person applying is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance such as a housing choice voucher or is living in public housing. The Center understands this to mean that everyone is eligible to apply for UniteCT. However, tenants who have federal or state subsidies may not qualify for assistance. If a tenant is told they do not qualify for assistance, they will be given the right to appeal this decision.
  • Denying rental assistance to people with housing subsidies or tenants in public housing has a disparate impact on people of color. In Connecticut, 71% of people in public and subsidized housing are people of color. Making assistance available only through a subjective appeals process increases the likelihood of arbitrary and inconsistent decisions that may lead to fair housing violations. 
  • Because many housing authorities and subsidized housing providers will not accept tenants previously evicted from subsidized housing, tenants evicted from subsidized units because of rental arrears will lose their housing and their subsidies and be disqualified from future housing subsidies.
  • 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. 
  • UniteCt requires that an applicant must either upload a copy of the 2020 tax returns for all members of a household over 18 or two months of income verification for all household members over 18. Treasury guidance does not require income verification equal to two months.
  • 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 $200 million in federal rental assistance.

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

  1. Prioritize tenants for assistance if they have a summary process case filed in court;
  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 data every week so that everyone can determine if the program is reaching Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents including but not limited to the demographics of who is applying and who has been approved, the geographic location of tenants and landlords;
  6. Permit tenants living in public and subsidized housing not only to apply but to qualify for assistance without going through the appeals process;
  7. 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; 
  8. Allow tenants to use the attestation form to certify their income if they receive cash income or cannot get documentation from an employer; 
  9. 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.; 
  10. 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; 
  11. Automatically qualify tenants receiving TANF, General Assistance, SNAP and/or living in public or subsidized housing to apply without any additional documentation regarding income. All income information can be obtained by DOH from DSS or the public or subsidized housing provider; 
  12. Prohibit evictions and executions for any tenant who has a pending or approved UniteCT application; 
  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:

Connecticut’s temporary ban on evictions will be in place through May 20, 2021. This means that your landlord cannot start a new eviction case against you until May 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.

Judge in D.C. strikes down CDC moratorium, effect in Connecticut uncertain: On Wednesday, May 6, a federal court judge from the District of Columbia struck down the nationwide moratoriums on evictions. However, that ruling has been put on hold as the result of an appeal filed by the Department of Justice. 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.

Right to Counsel

The Connecticut House of Representatives is likely to call H.B. 6531 An Act Concerning a Right to Counsel in Eviction Action for a vote next week. There is still time to call your legislators to help encourage the passage of this important legislation. Here is script you can use for your phone calls and emails to your State Representatives, State Senators, and general assembly leadership.

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 Center will continue to publish any recent news on foreclosure activity in Connecticut. For news and data previously published, 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

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

Call Your Legislators, Support HB6531: a Right to Counsel for Evictions


Last night, more than 50 of us came together to continue our organizing push for a Right to Counsel for evictions. With Governor Lamont’s support for RTC in his American Rescue Plan Act budget, we are so close to passing RTC and bringing real legal protections to tenants facing eviction. We know we will cross the finish line with all of our collective action! What can you do? Use this script and contact info sheet to call and email your legislators. Push them to pass H.B. 6531 and fully fund Right to Counsel: $14M/year for three years.

Need more resources? Use this linktree to find our RTC one-pager, links to articles and op-eds about RTC, and more, Together, let’s bring Right to Counsel to Connecticut!

Right to Counsel: Big Victory + Final Push!

We are so close to winning a Right to Counsel for evictions! This past Monday, Gov. Lamont announced that he is devoting $10 million dollars each of the next two years for a Right to Counsel program in his plan for the federal relief funds Connecticut is receiving through the American Rescue Plan Act. This could never have happened without all of the organizing, mobilizing, and advocacy we have done as a coalition. Let’s use this energy to finish strong and make sure we win this groundbreaking legislation for housing justice!

Here’s our plan for the next two crucial weeks. We need everyone to call & write our local state representatives and senators, the leadership of the state legislature, and the co-chairs of the Appropriations Committee with three basic demands:

  • Vote for HB 6531 – A Right to Counsel for Evictions.
  • Call HB 6531 to the floor for a vote.
  • Fully fund Right to Counsel at $14 million per year for 3 years.

Please join us on Tuesday, May 4 at 6pm for a virtual teach-in and phone bank to launch this big, final push to win a Right to Counsel. It’s open to everyone, so we ask you to please share with your networks and bring everyone you can with you. It always feels incredibly empowering to gather together, even if just virtually, with a concrete plan to win the change we know is necessary for a more just world. The fact we have gotten this far shows how powerful we are when we organize. When we fight we win!!

While the most important thing is our event next Tuesday, we have been busy on several fronts, so please see these amazing updates:

RSVP HERE https://bit.ly/2SmZH7o

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Gov. Lamont’s budget for the $2.6 billion in federal fiscal recovery funds coming to the state includes $20 million for legal representation for tenants facing eviction, spread over two years. This money would help start the statewide right to counsel for tenants program proposed in H.B. 6531 that the Center and more than 40 community groups have supported. Op-eds published this week explain why Connecticut should adopt right to counsel as a public health intervention, following a letter from more than 125 healthcare providers and researchers urging federal funding for tenant representation, and why right to counsel is an LGBTQ issue. Support the Center’s work during this critical effort.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

In today’s update:

Additional_resources

Applying_for_UniteCT

Eviction_statistics

Fixing_UniteCT

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratoriums_extended

Problems_with_UniteCT

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

  • Landlords have filed 1,177 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 419 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 in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 26% of Latinx renters and 17% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 10% of white renters.

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.

The Department of Housing (DOH) has stated tenants who have housing subsidies should continue to apply and seek assistance through the appeal process.

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. 

Problems encountered by UniteCT applicants:

UniteCT guidelines state that applicants are ineligible if the person applying is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance such as a housing choice voucher or is living in public housing. In Connecticut, this means that tenants who were unable to pay their portion of the rent due to the COVID-19 economic shut down do not qualify. Treasury Department guidance states that tenants who are not receiving or do not anticipate receiving another source of public or private subsidy for the rental arrearage are eligible to receive emergency rental assistance.

Denying rental assistance to people with housing subsidies or tenants in public housing has a disparate impact on people of color. In Connecticut, 71% of people in public and subsidized housing are people of color. Making assistance available only through a subjective appeals process increases the likelihood of arbitrary and inconsistent decisions that may lead to fair housing violations. 

Because many housing authorities and subsidized housing providers will not accept tenants previously evicted from subsidized housing, tenants evicted from subsidized units because of rental arrears will lose their housing and their subsidies and be disqualified from future housing subsidies. 

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.  

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.

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. 

Outreach materials on the English-language UniteCT website are currently only available in English, Portuguese, Kreyol, and Polish. There are no outreach materials in Spanish.

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.  

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 $200 million in federal rental assistance.

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

  1. 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; 
  2. Allow tenants to use the attestation form to certify their income if they receive cash income or cannot get documentation from an employer; 
  3. 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.; 
  4. 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; 
  5. Permit tenants living in public and subsidized housing to apply and receive assistance for arrears; 
  6. Automatically qualify tenants receiving TANF, General Assistance, SNAP and/or living in public or subsidized housing to apply without any additional documentation regarding income. All income information can be obtained by DOH from DSS or the public or subsidized housing provider; 
  7. Prohibit evictions and executions for any tenant who has a pending or approved UniteCT application; 
  8. Fix the technical problems raised above including providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who cannot access the UniteCT website or application.

Eviction and foreclosure moratoriums extended:

Connecticut’s temporary ban on evictions will be in place through May 20, 2021. This means that your landlord cannot start a new eviction case against you until May 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, but 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

The Center will continue to publish any recent news on foreclosure activity in Connecticut. For news and data previously published, 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

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 Tuesday, April 20, 2021, nearly a year after the murder of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder, and second-degree manslaughter. We echo the sentiments of Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison when he said, “I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration,” Ellison said. “But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice, and now the cause of justice is in your hands.” Please support the Center as we continue to fight on towards justice for black and brown people in the state of Connecticut.

Sign up to receive this weekly update.

In today’s update:

Additional_Resources

Apply_for_UniteCT

Call_to_Action_Right_to_Counsel

Eviction_statistics

Fixing_UniteCT

Foreclosure_news

Help_for_homeowners

Help_for_tenants

Moratoriums_extended

Problems_with_UniteCT

Resources

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

  • Landlords have filed 998 new summary process (eviction) cases;
  • Courts have issued 369 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 in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 26% of Latinx renters and 17% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 10% of white renters.

Applying for UniteCT:

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

Problems encountered by UniteCT applicants:

As of April 12, 2021,  UniteCT guidelines deem applications ineligible if the person applying is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance such as a housing choice voucher or is living in public housing. Despite this, Department of Housing (DOH) has stated tenants who have housing subsidies should continue to apply and seek assistance through an appeal process. There are currently no details on how or where to appeal a decision made by UniteCT.   

These changes prompted The Bridgeport Housing Authority (aka Park City Communities) to cancel the UniteCT mobile bus on April 14, April 21, and April 28 at their properties. As a result, tenants living in and near housing authority properties will not have the opportunity to use this resource.  

Evictions that can be avoided are still happening because rental assistance is not getting distributed quickly or broadly.  

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.  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 are not receiving a confirmation email once an application is submitted if the application has missing documents or other information. If the tenant does not receive the confirmation, they should email: doh-unitect@ct.gov to ensure the application was submitted. 

Landlords are not receiving a confirmation email once a tenant applies. Landlords should email doh-unitect@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328 to determine why the landlord has not received additional information. 

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

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. If a tenant is unable to get the landlord to write a rental agreement, email doh-unitect@ct.gov

The attestation form on the UniteCT website cannot be used in place of paystubs or other proof of employment.  

The tenant cannot find out what information is missing from their application. DOH hopes to be able to contact tenants with missing pieces of their application after they have hired additional staff. 

Outreach materials on the English-language UniteCT website are currently only available in English, 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.  

Denying rental assistance to people with housing subsidies or tenants in public housing has a disparate impact on people of color. In Connecticut, 71% of people in public and subsidized housing are people of color. Making assistance available only through a subjective appeals process increases the likelihood of arbitrary and inconsistent decisions that may lead to fair housing violations. 

Because many housing authorities and subsidized housing providers will not accept tenants previously evicted from subsidized housing, tenants evicted from subsidized units because of rental arrears will lose their housing and their subsidies and be disqualified from future housing subsidies. 

Tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application because of lack of reliable internet access.  

The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments. 

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

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 $200 million in federal rental assistance.

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

Right to Counsel Call to Action: We are asking all our supporters to call, email, and tweet at Governor Lamont TODAY. Ask him to support and fund a Right to Counsel for tenants in eviction cases with American Rescue Plan Act funds. Call: (800) 406-1527; Email: Governor.Lamont@ct.gov Tweet: @GovNedLamont. Your support will add to the over 100 healthcare providers, public health researchers, and other healthcare professionals who, on Wednesday, submitted a letter to Governor Lamont asking him to fund a Right to Counsel. For more information, read the Center’s blog post.

Eviction and foreclosure moratoriums extended:

Connecticut’s temporary ban on evictions will be in place through May 20, 2021. This means that your landlord cannot start a new eviction case against you untilMay 21, 2021with some important exceptionssee our website for details.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has placed a nationwide ban on evictions from September 4, 2020 through June 30, 2021.BUT this protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payment 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.  see our website for details.

Visit our website for English and Spanish fact sheets on both the Connecticut and CDC eviction moratoriums.

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.

See our website for more information.

Help for tenants

The Center’s website has detailed fact sheets for tenants on several issues that impact tenancy and to provide guidance on legal protections available to tenants.

Evictions, Lockouts, & Leases

Rental Assistance

Utilities

Protections against Discrimination

Additional general guidance is available on:

             Applying a Portion of Your Security Deposit to Rent: Under Executive Order 10A;

How to tell your landlord about the CDC moratorium;

Filing a complaint to investigate unlawful evictions.

Paying Rent: Tenants are still required to pay rent. If you cannot pay your full rent, you should still pay as much of the rent as possible on time and keep any records of your payments.

Responding to Eviction Papers: Tenants should not ignore eviction papers, filing deadlines, or notices about remote court events. Courts are entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file forms on time or attend remote court events.

Remote Court Dates: Courts are scheduling remote trials, hearings, and mediations. Tenants should receive a notice from the court when a court date is scheduled.

MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

The Center will continue to publish any recent news on foreclosure activity in Connecticut. For news and data previously published, please visit our website.

Help for homeowners

For detailed explanation on how to receive assistance with your tenancy please visit our website.

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 COVID-19 resources

There are up to date additional resources on COVID-19 recovery efforts on our website.

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

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

Connecticut Voters Support a Right to Counsel for Tenants in Eviction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 19, 2021

Contacts: CT Fair Housing Center: Sarah White, (860) 263-0726, swhite@ctfairhousing.org

                Central CT DSA: Luke Melonakos-Harrison (760) 532-4808, lukemeloh@gmail.com

Connecticut Voters Support a Right to Counsel for Tenants in Eviction

Federal Relief Money Can Fund Connecticut’s Right to Counsel Program

New polling in the Appeal shows that 2/3 of Connecticut voters support a statewide right to counsel program for tenants, a proven eviction prevention measure that Connecticut can fund for the next three and a half years using federal relief funding.

Data for Progress and The Lab found that “Sixty-seven percent of Connecticut voters—including 81 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents, and 51 percent of Republicans—would back the creation of a state program that provides lawyers to tenants facing eviction, with support cutting across age, gender, education, and racial demographic categories.” Polling was conducted of more than 700 likely Connecticut voters between April 9 and April 14.

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center, along with more than 40 other community organizations, has backed H.B. 6531, legislation that would guarantee legal representation for tenants facing eviction. Eight cities have created right to counsel programs for tenants, and two other states are on the verge of creating statewide programs, as the nation—and Connecticut—face an unprecedent surge in evictions as a result of the pandemic. Jurisdictions that create right to counsel programs see reductions in evictions and forced displacement of tenants.

“Tenants in Connecticut who are represented by an attorney are significantly more likely to keep their homes and avoid homelessness compared to those without legal representation,” according to Salmun Kazerounian, a staff attorney at the Center, who has analyzed past eviction data. Fewer than 7% of tenants have legal representation compared to 80% of landlords.

Carrie, a tenant who went through the eviction process without a lawyer, supports a right to counsel: “Without legal representation, I felt like no one was there to help me. If I did have a lawyer, I would have gotten better results and a better outcome. At the end of the day, the landlord would have had more respect for me.”

The Center’s tenant organizer, Shaznene Hussain, speaks to many tenants who are “scrambling to navigate a complicated legal process alone, under threat of losing their home in a matter of a few days, while their landlords are represented by attorneys who are expert at navigating the process. Tenants feel intimidated and unsure of how to advocate for themselves to the full extent the law allows.”

“Legal representation prevents the collateral consequences of evictions including its effect on jobs, children’s education, families’ physical and mental health, and families’ future access to decent housing. Funding legal representation  saves the state money in the downstream costs of eviction and homelessness, savings 2 to 12 times greater than the investment,” says eviction prevention attorney Melissa Marichal.

Connecticut will receive than $2.6 billion in federal relief funding, which can be used to fund who H.B. 6531’s statewide right to counsel program through the end of 2024. Over time, a right to counsel will pay for itself, bring down our cities’ high eviction rates, and changing a system that causes poverty and contributes to racial segregation.    

“The justice and urgency of the Right to Counsel bill is self-evident for the tenants we work with, for the justice-seeking organizations in our coalition, and for the more than a thousand people who have already signed our petition,” says Luke Melonakos-Harrison, an organizer with right to counsel coalition partner Central CT DSA. “Evictions–especially when enforced against tenants lacking fair legal representation in court–only entrench the racial segregation and extreme economic inequality that characterize so many of Connecticut’s communities. Although tenants are vastly underrepresented in our state government, we are making ourselves heard through this campaign.”

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