Fair Housing COVID-19 Weekly Update 7.30.20

ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

July 30, 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.

Eviction moratorium:  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. Please read our FAQs about the moratorium here in English and in Spanish.

Federal eviction moratorium ends: In March, the federal government placed a moratorium on evictions from homes with federally-backed mortgages. On Friday, July 24, that eviction moratorium ends. However, the Connecticut moratorium on evictions will continue until August 22, with the limited exceptions explained above. This means that landlords in Connecticut cannot serve a Notice to Quit or a summary process complaint against anyone regardless of whether they have a federally backed mortgage.

Foreclosure advice: Until the pandemic, the Center gave homeowners in foreclosure several ways to get assistance. Most of these involved in-person meetings in courthouses or clinics which are not currently possible. Beginning on August 7, the Center will start holding

Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for 15 minute advice sessions over video or phone to get legal advice about their foreclosure questions. The program will begin on August 7, with 8 advice slots available weekly. We will expand availability based on our capacity and demand for the programs. Homeowners can sign up online, answer a few short questions, and select an appointment date and time.

What happened since July 16, 2020:

  • 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.
  • Want to help kids weather this school year? Keep them from getting evicted: Experts researching the effect of eviction on families and educational achievement by children recommend that keeping families from being evicted will ensure better school outcomes. Unfortunately, Congress has not yet acted to extend the federal moratorium on evictions, nor has it provided any significant rent relief program. Connecticut’s TRHAP program is predicted to run out of money before everyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is assisted.
  • Solving the eviction crisis: The Editorial Board of the New York Times recommends that Congress impose a nationwide moratorium on evictions and then give people who have lost their jobs money to pay their rent or mortgage. If something is not done, the United States is on the verge of allowing a mass dislocation of lower-income household that could dwarf the Great Recession.
  • As enhanced unemployment ends, expect a wave of evictions: With the end of the $600 a week enhanced unemployment benefits, Connecticut should expect a wave of evictions when the Connecticut moratorium lifts on August 22. More than 300,000 people who are unemployed have applied for benefits while Connecticut landlords have predicted a doubling or tripling of new evictions over the number filed last year.

 

  • Connecticut’s coffers have grown during the pandemic: Connecticut’s rainy day fund which can be used to solve short term budget crises has grown during the pandemic despite warnings of a nearly $1 billion deficit just three months ago. The rainy day fund now stands at $2.8 billion, an increase from $2.5 billion when the crisis began.

 

  • Homebuyers look to upgrade while renters face eviction: The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequities throughout the country. With historically low interest rates, many homebuyers are upgrading to their dream homes while renters face eviction. Real estate agents throughout the country report a hot market for people buying homes with sellers sometimes receiving multiple offers above listing price. At the same time, renters are hearing only that they may lose their homes to eviction because they lost their jobs and cannot pay rent.

 

  • Judicial Branch is developing a process to handle summary process mediations by video conference: The Judicial Branch announced that in addition to holding remote hearings and remote trials in identified civil cases, it is also developing a process to allow for summary process cases to be mediated through video conference with a housing mediator.

 

  • Court issues guide to participating in court hearings remotely: The Judicial Branch issued 32 pages of guidance on how to participate in court hearings remotely for attorneys and self-represented parties. To participate, parties must have access to the internet and the Microsoft Teams app. Advocates are concerned that many low-income people will have difficulty participating in court hearings in the future.

 

  • Foreclosures delayed. The Judicial Branch issued orders delaying foreclosure sales until October 3, 2020 to prevent the potential gathering of individuals at the auction site and rescheduling law days for strict foreclosures to September 9, 2020.

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.

 

 

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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