January 14, 2021
During the U.S. House of Representatives’ debate on Tuesday, January 12, before a majority of that body voted to impeach the President for a second time, many legislators called for unity and an effort to move beyond the horror perpetrated by white terrorists at the U.S. Capitol. It is not time to move on. It will not be time to move on until the United States confronts its history of white supremacy. This country must acknowledge and correct the decades of discriminatory actions and policies that continue to keep our communities segregated and people of color in substandard housing at risk of eviction, foreclosure, and housing discrimination.
Our work toward overturning those actions and policies continues. Please join us.
Since the pandemic began on March 10, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:
- Landlords have filed 2,969 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
- Courts have issued 785 executions—Once a court issues an execution order, the landlord can hire a state marshal to remove the tenant and their belongings from the unit.
What’s happened since January 7, 2020:
Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: At present, Connecticut residents 65 and over as well as people with high-risk health conditions, among others, qualify to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Appointments can be made on-line or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare) or 860-679-4400 (UConn Health). Patients who are 65 and over along with other qualified residents will be seen regardless of whether they have ever used either health care system. No one will receive a vaccine unless they have an appointment. Vaccination clinics are currently being held in Wethersfield, Norwich, Shelton, and Hartford with more sites to be added soon. For people who are not over the age of 65 or who do not have high-risk health conditions, it is still possible to register to receive notice when you become eligible for a vaccination.
Best practices for creating a new rental assistance program: The National Low Income Housing Coalition has issued best practices for creating a new rental assistance program with the $237 million new rental assistance funding Connecticut is scheduled to receive. Among the recommendations are to create a simple and accessible application process, determine what emergency rental assistance will cover, determine landlord requirements, and identify and partner with key organizations to get the word out about the program.
The public costs of COVID-19 related evictions could top $1.2 billion in Connecticut: The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that the public costs of eviction related homelessness could go as high as $1.2 billion or as low as $628 million. The public costs of eviction related homelessness include shelter costs, inpatient medical care, and hospital emergency department costs among others.
Connecticut Right to Counsel: In late December, a petition was launched by Central CT DSA that calls on Connecticut legislators to propose and pass Right to Counsel legislation guaranteeing the right to no-cost legal counsel to all residential tenants facing eviction proceedings. In its first 10 days, the petition received over 500 signatures, with the campaign now including 23 endorsing organizations, including the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, the CT AFL-CIO, the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, and the Connecticut Fair Housing Center. Watch the launch event here. Read, sign and share the petition here.
The Governor extended Connecticut’s eviction moratorium to February 9, 2021: Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9T extending Connecticut’s eviction moratorium to February 9, 2021, the day the Governor’s emergency powers are set to expire. Landlords are only permitted to start an eviction action if a tenant:
a) owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020;
b) owes six or more months’ worth of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020;
c) created a serious nuisance; or
d) has a lease that expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence;
Congress extended federal CDC eviction moratorium through January 31: The CDC has extended the federal moratorium on evictions though January 31, 2021. Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. To invoke the protection of the CDC moratorium, all the adults in the household must complete and sign CDC declarations and give them to the landlord. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the CDC moratorium’s eligibility requirements. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give it to the landlord. There are also two online platforms that can help tenants sign the declaration electronically and email it to their landlord. If the tenant already has an eviction court case, the tenant should also give copies of the declarations to the court. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available in English and Spanish.
Responding to Eviction Papers: Tenants should not ignore eviction papers, filing deadlines, or notices about remote court events. Courts are entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file forms on time or attend remote court events. Once a Default Judgment is entered against a tenant, the landlord can ask the court for an execution. An execution gives the landlord permission to hire a marshal to remove the tenant. Learn more about the eviction court process.
Remote Court Dates: Courts are scheduling remote trials, hearings, and mediations. Tenants should receive a notice from the court when a court date is scheduled. Tenants can also confirm if they have an upcoming court date by looking up their case on the Judicial website or contact the clerk’s office. Once on their case page, they can also sign up for email alerts about their case. If a court date is scheduled, tenants must attend either by video or phone—even if they have already given their landlord a CDC declaration. Tenant should make sure to send their email address and phone number to the email address listed on the court notice so that the court can send them a link to join the meeting via video or phone.
Rental assistance for people without legal status: The State’s rental assistance program for people without legal status is still open. To access this assistance, tenants should contact Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) at 1-203-612-5464 or email@example.com. More program information is available here, and a Spanish-language webinar is available here.
Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program over: On December 3, 2020 DOH closed the TRHAP program. If you or someone you know was pre-qualified for the program and have not completed a full application, email firstname.lastname@example.org to determine what you should do next. If you were pre-qualified for the program but you have not completed a full application, and your landlord is still threatening you with eviction, write to email@example.com.
211: Additional government assistance may be available through programs administered by local organizations and municipalities. Tenants may call 2-1-1 to confirm what rent and housing assistance is available in their area.
Researchers estimate 1,500 deaths and 17,000 infections were prevented by Connecticut’s eviction moratorium: The researchers who authored two recent studies that evaluated the effect of the pandemic on tenants have applied their research to infection rates in states with eviction moratoria. The eviction moratorium in place between March and September in Connecticut which prohibited most landlords from doing anything to begin an eviction case is estimated to have saved 1,500 lives and prevented approximately 17,000 coronavirus infections.
HUD, USDA, VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac extend foreclosure moratorium: HUD has extended the foreclosure moratorium for FHA loans through February 28, 2021. The moratorium prohibits lenders from filing foreclosure actions or moving foreclosures forward that have already been filed. The USDA and the VA have taken similar steps to extend their moratoria through February 28, 2021. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have extended their foreclosure moratoria through January 31, 2021. The moratoriums do not apply to properties that are vacant or abandoned.
No foreclosure moratorium on mortgages that are not “federally-backed” or non-mortgage foreclosures: Homeowners whose mortgages are not “federally-backed” or who owe condominium fees, real estate taxes, or other real estate related taxes are not protected from foreclosure. See our website for more information.
Homeowners have until February 28, 2021 to request a forbearance on FHA and USDA loans—Homeowners can still request forbearances if they are unable to pay the mortgage as the result of a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to request a forbearance ends on February 28, 2021.
Judicial Branch is scheduling remote hearings in foreclosure cases: Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference if necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone. On December 17, 2020, the Center sent the Judicial Branch a letter reporting that self-represented parties in some larger judicial districts were being provided with only a few days’ notice by regular mail – for instance, being mailed a letter on Friday of a Monday morning hearing. The Judicial Branch recently reported that self-represented parties should now be receiving two weeks’ notice of any remote hearing.
Affidavit required for foreclosure filings: On September 24, the Judicial Branch issued a Standing Order that prohibits any foreclosure action from being filed or moving forward unless the bank or mortgage company files an affidavit stating that the loan is not a federally backed mortgage, is vacant, or is not in forbearance. If the affidavit is not filed with the Court, then the case may be dismissed.
What should homeowners do?
Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone, and get some individualized questions answered in a way that they could at our in-person clinics or through the Judicial Branch’s Volunteer Attorney Program that we regularly staff during non-pandemic times. The program has been used by dozens of homeowners from across the state since it began last summer. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org
T-MAP program is shut down: The T-MAP program is no longer accepting applications.
Utilities must continue to offer payment plans to customers: Utilities must now extend the availability of the 24-month COVID-19 payment plans until February 9, 2021. Any customer can call their utility company to set up a payment arrangement. COVID-19 payment plans are:
- Available to any customer requesting financial assistance, without demonstrating financial need;
- Require no initial or down payment;
- Can be up to 24 months in length;
- No fees or interest in the calculation of the monthly payment amount;
- Facilitate the repayment of past due balances in addition to the customer’s current monthly bill.
Importantly, any customer enrolled in a COVID-19 Payment Plan who is current with their payment terms cannot be disconnected even after the shut-off moratoriums have concluded.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Staff continue to hold fair housing trainings and COVID-19 eviction and foreclosure prevention resource workshops via Zoom with social service agencies, direct service providers, community groups, and invested stakeholders. If your agency would find a short resource webinar or fair housing training helpful during this crisis please contact Rashida Rattray, the Center’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, at email@example.com
Resources for tenants and homeowners:
More COVID-19 resources can be found on our website.
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