Fair Housing COVID-19 Response

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

April 21, 2020

Important Deadlines:  Tenants who know they cannot pay May rent must notify their landlord in writing by May 10, 2020 that they can’t pay rent due to full or partial unemployment, or significant loss in revenue or increase in expenses due to the pandemic to get a 60-day extension to pay the rent.

Resources for tenants and homeowners:

  • Click here to understand current tenant rent relief options in Spanish and English (Updated and attached for distribution).
  • 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. (Recently added Tagalog and Khmer translations to our guidance 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 daily update fill out the form here.

Fair housing issues and COVID-19:

  • If you are disabled and are unable to perform such tasks as walking, breathing, going up and down stairs, or other important life activities because COVID-19 has left you permanently disabled, you may be able to get a reasonable accommodation from your landlord. A reasonable accommodation is a change in a rule, policy or practice like allowing you to have a home health aide, giving you permission to have someone live with you to take care of you, or allowing you to park closer to your unit.  If you are disabled and need more information, click here. To request a reasonable accommodation, click here.
  • Tenants with children at home due to school closures are receiving complaints from neighbors and landlords about children making noise. If you are being threatened with eviction or receive a Notice to Quit because your children are making noise, click here for more information or call the Center at 888-247-4401.

What happened on April 20, 2020:

  • State Representative Brandon McGee asks that Connecticut upend structural housing inequities: State Representative McGee authored an Op-Ed in the Hartford Courant asking that the inequitable housing policies which keep people in unstable housing be reconsidered and restructured to ensure that all of Connecticut’s residents reside in stable, affordable housing.  You can read the full Op-Ed here.
  • 95% of all mortgages are in forbearance: The number of mortgages in forbearance increased from 5.5% on April 16 to 5.95% on April 20. This is compared to only .25% of all loans in forbearance as of March 2, 2020. By investor type, Ginnie Mae-backed mortgages (FHA- and VA-backed) recorded the greatest increase in forbearance over the week, swelling from 5.89% to 8.26%. In comparison, the share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans in forbearance nearly doubled over the week from 2.44% to 4.64%. For more information, click here.
  • Request that the Courts not resume short calendar hearings where self-represented and non-appearing individuals are involved: The Center and the Housing Clinic of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, asked that the Connecticut Court system exclude motions involving civil cases with self-represented parties and non-appearing individuals from its plans to resume non-arguable short calendars for non-priority cases so as to ensure equal access to justice for litigants without counsel and to protect the public health. A copy of the letter can be viewed here.
  • Outreach: Staff created a Rent Recalculation Request letter generator to help tenants living in subsidized housing ask that they rent be reduced as the result of a loss in come.  The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
  • Outreach: The Center’s website traffic continues to increase daily.
  • Outreach: Staff distributed this daily housing update to over 600 advocates and had more than 700 unique hits on the update on our website.  If you want this daily update delivered to your inbox, click here.

Still needed to ensure housing stability:

  • Help for tenants who cannot pay their rent.
  • Payments to landlords to allow them to maintain their buildings and continue to provide housing.
  • Bar on mortgage companies filing foreclosure complaints. Nearly 600 have been filed since the Governor declared a public health and civil preparedness emergency, including several that are banned by the agreement banks and credit unions struck with the Governor and the Department of Banking.

What we are learning from our clients

  • The Center has tripled its call volume during the past month compared to the same period last year. The majority of calls received by the Center and other housing advocates ask whether there is any assistance for tenants who cannot pay their rent.
  • Tenants continue to call because they are being asked to show their apartments to prospective tenants without regard to COVID-19 precautions. The Center is advising tenants that under Connecticut landlord/tenant laws they have the right to refuse entrance to anyone if it would cause a safety hazard.
  • Because not all mortgage servicers are participating in the federal or state forbearance programs, homeowners continue to receive notices of default.
  • Mortgage servicers continue to file foreclosure complaints.
  • Homeowners do not know what to do when they receive a foreclosure summons and complaint since many courts and court information centers are closed.
  • People without legal status continue to face deportation and are unable to access services to stay in their homes.
  • People who were laid off from their jobs as the result of the pandemic are moving in with parents and friends sometimes causing overcrowding or lease violations. Foreclosures of homeowners will now affect many more people.

More external 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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