Fair Housing COVID-19 Weekly Response 8.6.2020

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

August 6, 2020

Eviction moratorium: 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 till Saturday, August 22, 2020.

 

Apply for TRHAP on-line:  The Department of Housing’s Temporary Rental Housing 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. To read the Center’s fact sheet about the program, click here.

 

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 most of these involved in-person meetings in courthouses, those avenues for assistance have shut down. However, beginning on August 7, the Center will start 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 will begin on August 7, with 8 slots weekly, and expand if there’s enough demand from homeowners and capacity for us. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment pretty quickly.

We are hiring!

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 happened since July 30, 2020:

 

  • Governor holding onto CARES Act funding in case it is needed later: Despite an effective unemployment rate of 16.5%, Governor Lamont has refused to spend all of the $1.38 million the State has received in CARES Act funding to alleviate the expenses caused by the COVID-19 crisis and has instead saved the money for use at a later date. In the meantime, more than 6,000 a day people have called the Department of Housing’s hotline to apply for THRAP assistance.

 

  • Connecticut’s mortgage delinquency rate is one of the highest in the nation: Connecticut homeowners are falling behind at a higher rate than those in most other states. According to Black Knight, a firm that provides lenders and mortgage servicers with data and analytics, 9.93% of Connecticut’s 571,513 mortgages were delinquent at the end of June, compared to 7.6% nationally. Over half are delinquent by 90 days when most lenders begin foreclosures actions. Connecticut ranks 10th in the country in mortgage delinquencies. If you are behind on your mortgage, beginning on Friday, August 7, homeowners can sign up for the Center’s Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment pretty quickly.

 

  • Hartford has the lowest census response rate in the nation: While Connecticut’s census response rate at 66.7% was higher than the national response rate of 62.9%, Hartford has the lowest response rate in the country with only 44.6% of people responding. Advocates hope that any new stimulus bill will give the Census Bureau additional time to finish its count. Without accurate responses from all parts of the country, it will be difficult to allocate Congressional representation and many federally funded social service program.

 

  • Crisis unwasted: In response to the Black Lives Matter movement and in the wake of the protests that began after the death of George Floyd, state and local officials are considering changes to zoning laws to require towns to be more inclusive. Mayor Justin Elicker of New Haven as well as former Darien First Selectwoman and former DOH Commissioner Evonne Klein have both made it clear that promoting integration through the building of affordable housing in many new locations will address many of the issues affecting people of color in Connecticut.
  • Unemployment numbers for June show increasing impact on people who are Black: Data released by Connecticut’s Department of Labor reveals that while the overall number of unemployed people in Connecticut decreased by about 8.2% compared to May, the improvements to the economic was not felt equally. For White and Asian people, about 11% less were out of work in June when compared to May. For Latinx people, only 6.2% less were out of work. For Black people, 6% more were out of work when compared with May.  The weight of job losses continues to be felt most by younger people as well, with more than 11% of the unemployed aged 45-59 returning to work, but only about 6.5% of unemployed people aged 22-34 returning to work. Every demographic in Connecticut saw significant numbers of unemployed people go back to work in June when compared to May, and May when compared April. The only demographic that did not show improvement were Black people. More Black people were unemployed at the end of June than in April, the peak of unemployment in Connecticut.

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 daily actions on Mondays and Wednesday, 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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