Fair Housing COVID-19 Weekly Response 8.13.20

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

August 13, 2020

Eviction moratorium ends on August 22: The State of Connecticut’s eviction moratorium ends on August 22, 2020. Please read our FAQs about the moratorium here in English and in Spanish. Executive Order 7DDD issued by Governor Lamont extended the eviction moratorium so that, except for serious nuisance cases or cases based on nonpayment of rent that was due prior to February 29, 2020, no notices to quit may be served until Saturday, August 22, 2020.

Apply for TRHAP on-line:  As of Wednesday, July 12, the Department of Housing’s Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program is available to everyone who has moderate income and owes rent because of COVID-19. You can apply on-line or by telephone, 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here.

President issues executive order regarding eviction: On August 8, President Trump signed an executive order regarding evictions. The order directs various federal agencies to consider what they can do with existing authority or budgets to help people in danger of losing their homes to eviction. However, immediate relief for renters seems unlikely via this order since it does nothing to stop landlords from filing eviction cases nor courts from hearing them. In addition, the President said he ordered emergency pandemic aid for needy Americans as well as a cut in payroll taxes.

 Apply for T-MAP on-line:  CFHA’s Temporary Mortgage Assistance Program to assist homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgage, the Temporary Mortgage Assistance Program, now has an on-line application in English. It has not yet been translated into Spanish. To apply for assistance by telephone, call 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here.

Foreclosure advice: Until the pandemic, the Center provided several different ways for homeowners in foreclosure to get assistance. Since some of these involved in-person meetings in courthouses, those particular avenues for assistance have shut down. However, on August 7, the Center started holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure will be able to sign up for advice sessions over video or phone, and get some individualized questions answered in a way they – under normal circumstances – could at our in-person clinics or through the Judicial Branch’s Volunteer Attorney Program. The program offers several weekly, and we will expand it based on demand and our own capacity. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment pretty quickly.

 What happened since August 6, 2020:

  • Few qualify for state programs: According to the Department of Housing, more than 1,100 people call to apply for the State’s TRHAP rental assistance every day. Yet only about 170 callers each day qualify for help. Evictions are expected to almost double over the same period last year, rising to a total of at least 14,000 households in danger of being displaced in the next few months.
  • Court refuses to issue an injunction ending the eviction moratorium: Several landlords filed suit against the Lamont administration alleging that by issuing a moratorium on evictions, the State has violated their due process rights and deprived them of their ability to collect rent. This week Connecticut’s federal District Court refused to issue an order which would have immediately suspended the State’s eviction moratorium.
  • Eviction Lab publishes Connecticut data: The Eviction Lab, begun by sociologist Matthew Desmond, has begun publishing data gathered by the Connecticut Fair Housing Center on the number of new summary process actions filed every day. With the number of new filings expected to go up after the moratorium ends on August 22, Connecticut will be facing an eviction crisis which will be tracked in real time.
  • NY stops evictions until the COVID-19 crisis ends: The New York State legislature has passed a law that suspends all evictions until Governor Cuomo lifts all restrictions on businesses and non-essential gatherings.
  • Public housing tenants worried about COVID-19 spread can refuse inspections: While HUD has ordered housing authorities to resume in-person inspections of housing units, tenants worried about the spread of the COVID-19 virus can refuse to permit people into their apartments to do inspections.
  • Evictions and foreclosures are coming: People all over the country are facing evictions and foreclosures. More than 20% of households say they do not expect to be able to pay rent or their mortgage in September. The number of people displaced could be greater than the number during the real estate collapse in 2008. This will also effect the economy with experts predicting the largest disruption to the housing market since the Great Depression.
  • Mortgage delinquencies are spiking: As of the end of June, more people were behind on their mortgage, and more people were “seriously” behind on their mortgage (90+ days) since 2011 – one of the worst years of the Great Recession. Most mortgage companies are allowed to pursue foreclosure actions once the borrower has been behind on their mortgage for 120 days. Click here for more information.
  • Health care workers of color nearly twice as likely as whites to get COVID: According to a new study by Harvard Medical School, health care workers of color were more likely to care for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, more likely to report using inadequate or reused protective gear, and nearly twice as likely as white colleagues to test positive for the coronavirus. 
  • The Connecticut Fair Housing Center is responding to the coming eviction crisis by hiring a Staff Attorney and a Community Education Specialist and Tenant Organizer. You can find the job announcements here. Please share this announcement with your contacts.

What we are hearing from our clients:

  • Tenants attempting to apply for TRHAP assistance are experiencing long wait times in getting through to someone who can take their application and depleting minutes on pay-as-you-go phones.
  • The TRHAP program does not have a TTY line making it difficult for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to apply for benefits.
  • Tenants continue to seek assistance on how to pay their rent when they have lost their income due to COVID-19
  • Tenants are being threatened with termination of their lease in response to extended eviction moratorium
  • Landlords are raising rents in response to housing shortage cause by inflow of new residents into Connecticut
  • Landlords are harassing tenants for rent
  • Tenants are being denied housing based on how many children they have
  • Tenants using housing subsidies to pay their rent continue to face source of income discrimination

Outreach

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

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 people who are white. For more information on tenants’ demands and to sign the petition, click here. To participate in the regular actions, click here.

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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