Fair Housing COVID-19 Response 6.18.2020

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

June 18, 2020

The offices of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center will be closed on Friday, June 19 in honor of Juneteenth. For more information about this day and the significant but neglected role it plays in United States history, read here:

The Center stands in solidarity with Black people fighting for equity in access to housing, education, and healthcare.

Important Deadline:  There is no extension for paying June rent. If you did not pay April rent, that is due in June also.

Call to Action:  Tenants in Connecticut are calling on Governor Lamont to stop all evictions indefinitely and cancel the obligation to pay rent. Connecticut leads the nation in income inequality, and this burden is disproportionately shouldered by Black and brown communities: nearly 60% of Black renters and 55% of Hispanic renters are cost-burdened compared to 43% of white renters. For more information on tenants’ demands and to sign the petition, click here. To participate in the daily actions on Mondays and Wednesday, click here.

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

What happened since June 11, 2020:

  • Federal agencies extend foreclosure and eviction moratorium: To help borrowers and renters who are at risk of losing their homes due to the coronavirus emergency, various federal agencies (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, and the VA) have extended their moratorium on filing foreclosures and starting evictions on post-foreclosure matters until August 31. For more information on this, click here, here, here, and here.
  • The Center seeks a rent relief program that does not reinforce segregation: On June 16, the Center sent a letter to Governor Lamont, the Secretary of OPM, and the Commissioner of the Department of Housing asking create a rental assistance that does not reinforce segregation. The program currently under discussion uses $10 million of CARES Act fund and will lead to significant numbers of Blacks and Latinos losing their homes thus reinforcing nearly 100 years of policies which led to the hyper-segregation we see today in Connecticut. To read the Center’s letter and press release, click here.
  • Connecticut needs a bailout for the rental market: Civil legal services advocates warned that when the State’s eviction moratorium ends on July 1, Connecticut will face a surge of evictions with dire economic and public health consequences. The advocates urged the State to follow the lead of New Jersey and Pennsylvania to use CARES Act funds to assist tenants and landlords. To read this story, click here.
  • Elm City Communities (Housing Authority of New Haven) cancels rent for July: On June 16, 2020, Elm City Housing (the Housing Authority of New Haven) announced it was cancelling rent for its 1,280 families living in its public housing. “Combining [income between $14,000 and $16,000 for most families] with the additional costs of COVID-19 related disruptions in work schedules, school schedules, increased electricity bills, food costs, cleaning supplies, childcare and medical costs means that we’re dealing with serious problems that will last longer than the reliefs currently in place,” Executive Director Dr. Karen DuBois-Walton said. Click here to read more.
  • Senate Democrats call for special session on racial justice: Connecticut’s Senate Democrats asked for a special session to deal with racial justice, stating “The Connecticut legislature has remained in neutral for far too long on basic, vital changes to our existing public policies, changes that can make a real and substantive difference in the lives of a third of our population. It is the 21st century, yet we have remained stalled on real progress.” To reach the full statement, click here.
  • Zoning causes segregation: Among the small towns where Black Lives Matter protests have taken place, there is little reference to the zoning laws and public outcry that prevent the create of affordable housing which would lead to diversifying the people who live there. Legal scholars, planning officials, and policy advocates have been discussing how zoning causes the hyper-segregation we see today in Connecticut. These advocates hope that the time has come to reverse some of these laws. For more, click here and here.
  • Federal Courts reopened on June 16: Connecticut Federal District Courts expanded in-person hearings in civil and criminal matters on Tuesday, June 16. Jury selection and jury trials are still delayed until September. For more information, click here.
  • Landlords file suit to overturn governor’s rent relief order: Eight landlords, represented by State Representatives (and attorneys) Pavalock-D’Amato, Fishbein, and Dubitsky, have filed suit in federal court alleging that Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7x, which prevents the bringing of summary process actions for reasons other than serious nuisance, is unconstitutional. Click here for more information.
  • Connecticut creates a rental assistance program for tenants: The Connecticut Department of Housing is in the process of creating a $10 million program that will assist tenants with income at 80% of AMI in 2019 who were unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The details of the program are still being worked out. For more information, click here.
  • Suspension of the use of executions in completed cases: The Connecticut Judicial Branch has issued an order stopping the issuance of executions in eviction and foreclosure cases through August 1. The Governor’s moratorium on filing new evictions is still expected to expire on July 1 meaning new notices to quit could be served and new eviction cases can be filed in July if not otherwise barred by the federal CARES Act. The Branch also extended law days to August 4, and sale dates to August 22. And the Branch lifted the suspension of most appellate-related deadlines. To read the Judicial Branch’s orders, click here.

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

 

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

  • Click here to understand current tenant rent relief options in Spanish and English.
  • Click here to find more details in our tenant FAQ.
  • Click here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
  • Click here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Our guidance is now available in 11 languages.)
  • Need to have your subsidized rent recalculated due to income loss? The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
  • To sign up for our weekly update fill out the form

 

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

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

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