December 4, 2020—Addendum
Thank you to everyone who came out or called in support of our client in Stratford. As a result of your presence and voices as well as the advocacy of the Center’s staff, the judge told the state marshal not to take any steps to move our client out until further notice from the court. There is another hearing scheduled for Wednesday, December 9th if the parties cannot resolve this on their own. Additionally, the Department of Housing reached out to Center staff to connect the client with resources.
To give you additional background, the Center was contacted by a woman living in Stratford who had received notice on Tuesday, December 1 that the Court had given her landlord permission to move her out on Friday, December 4th.
After interviewing the client, our staff found that she:
- Never received a Notice to Quit;
- Never received a Summary Process complaint;
- Never received notice that she could file a CDC declaration;
- Was COVID+ and had symptoms of the disease;
- Was living with her elderly mother who was also experiencing COVID-19 symptoms;
- Had lost her job due to the pandemic;
- Had applied for unemployment benefits but had not yet received any money;
- Did not know about the TRHAP program which could have helped her pay the rent;
- Had been trying to make rent payments since April when she lost her job;
- Would have to stay with friends if she was moved out of her apartment and would expose them to the novel coronavirus.
We called upon state officials to help stop the move out and learned this:
- Local health departments believe they have no ability to do anything to stop the spread of the virus in an eviction case;
- The attorney for the State Marshal’s office believes that they cannot stop an eviction that has been authorized by a court even if the eviction would spread the virus;
- This is not the first time state marshals have moved tenants out who are COVID+;
Some questions we have been asked include:
I thought there was an eviction moratorium—The Governor and the CDC have both issued eviction moratoria which will end on December 31, 2020. However, there are several exceptions to the State moratorium and this case may fall into one of those exceptions. In addition, the CDC moratorium does not apply automatically. A tenant must create a declaration and give it to their landlord and the court for it to have any effect. More than 2,320 new eviction cases have been filed since the beginning of the public health emergency. Only 24 CDC declarations have been filed with the court.
Where would the tenant go if she was moved out today?—The client might have been able to stay with friends. However, she would have been exposing them to the coronavirus. Homeless shelters may not have accepted her because of her COVID+ status. In addition, many shelters are full with waiting lists 3 months long.
Doesn’t the State have a program to pay rent arrearages?—The State’s TRHAP program currently has at least 12,000 applications for assistance for a program that can serve approximately 10,000. There has been very little publicity about the program and, in this case, the tenant did not know it existed. She applied for assistance on December 3. Since the program will only pay a maximum of $4,000, this may not pay all rent owed. However, the landlord says she wants to live in the apartment. As a result, payment of the rent may not resolve this issue.
What can you do?
Call or email:
- Governor Ned Lamont, (860) 556-4840, (800) 406-1527, or @GovNedLamont on Twitter
- Honorable Kaitlyn Shake, District 2 Stratford City Council member, (203)385-4035;
- State Representative Phil Young, Stratford Representative, (860)240-8376;
- State Representative Joseph Gresko, Stratford Representative, (860)842-8267;
- State Senator Rick Lopes, Co-Chair of the Legislative Housing Committee, 860-240-0340
- State Representative Brandon McGee, Co-Chair of the Legislative Housing Committee, (860) 240-8585;
- State Representative Matt Ritter, House Majority Leader, (860)240-8585;
- State Senator Martin Looney, Senate Majority Leader, (860)240-0375.
- Extend the eviction moratorium until the COVID-19 health crisis is over;
- Remove the exceptions to the moratorium because people will spread the virus regardless of the reason they are evicted;
- Create a rental assistance program that is advertised widely and helps all tenants in danger of losing their housing.
The Connecticut Fair Housing Center makes a commitment to fight on because too many people depend on us and our ability to fight for them. Neither the outcome of an election nor the spread of a deadly virus alters the fact that discrimination continues, and people are on the brink of losing their homes. Your support is needed now more than ever as we must fight on.