February 12, 2021
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People forced out of their homes by eviction or foreclosure must turn to over-crowded conditions with friends or family or in the shelter system. This will inevitably lead to an increase in COVID-19 infections as new, more contagious, and more deadly variants of the virus spread. The Center is working to ensure that all of Connecticut’s residents have equal access to safe, affordable housing. Please join us.
Since the public health emergency began on March 10, 2020, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:
- Landlords have filed 3,545 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
- Courts have issued 987 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.
- Tenants who have eviction cases filed against them or whose landlords have obtained executions are in danger of losing their homes and are at greater risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus.
What’s happened since February 4, 2021:
Connecticut eviction moratorium extended until April 20, 2021: Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 10A which extends the Connecticut eviction moratorium until April 20, 2021, the current expiration date of the public health emergency. Unfortunately, eviction moratoriums do not prevent rental arrears from accumulating without adequate rental assistance. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston estimates that tenants who lost jobs during the pandemic owe more than $11 billion in rental arrears, while Moody’s Analytics estimates $53 billion in rental arrears is owed.
HUD working to eradicate housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity: On February 11, 2021, HUD announced that it will administer and enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. HUD’s new initiative begins implementation of Executive Order 13988 which directed all executive branch agencies to take further steps to combat such discrimination. Among other things, HUD’s newly issued memorandum permits people who have experienced housing discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation to file complaints with HUD for investigation and resolution.
Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: At present, Connecticut residents 65 and over 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) or (877) 918-2224 (the state vaccine system).
New research suggests that increasing housing stability prevents COVID-related infections and deaths: Research from Duke University found policies that limit evictions are found to reduce COVID-19 infections by 3.8% and reduce deaths by 11%. Moratoria on utility disconnections reduce COVID-19 infections by 4.4% and mortality rates by 7.4%. Had such policies been adopted as federal policy from early March 2020 through the end of November 2020, the researchers estimated that policies that limit evictions could have reduced COVID-19 infections by 14.2% and deaths by 40.7%. For moratoria on utility disconnections, COVID-19 infections rates could have been reduced by 8.7% and deaths by 14.8%. Housing precarity policies that prevent eviction and utility disconnections have been effective mechanisms for decreasing both COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Hearing scheduled to repeal Connecticut’s “poverty tax”: H.B. 6416 will have a public hearing before the legislature’s Human Services Committee on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. If passed, this bill will repeal Connecticut’s inequitable poverty tax which requires the Department of Social Services to impose liens when a resident receives state assistance. Connecticut has one of the strictest welfare lien laws in the country and is one of only two states to still require the liens. The public is welcome to listen to the hearing or testify on this bill.
State Rental Housing Assistance: Although the Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program is closed, tenants who applied for assistance can get information about the status of their application for assistance or email their questions to email@example.com. The Department of Housing is creating a new program to distribute $235 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds. Check the Department of Housing website for updates on when this new program will open.
Student gives mother her college money to pay the rent: A Houston landlord locked a family out of their home because they owed more than $2,000 in rent even though such lock outs are prohibited by federal and state law. To ensure that her family had a place to live, a high school senior used the money she had saved to pay for college to get her family back into their apartment. The problems faced by this family highlights the impossible choices millions of Americans have faced after losing their income amid the pandemic. While the federal CDC moratorium is supposed to prevent evictions through March, advocates say many seniors, immigrants and other vulnerable groups are unaware of the CDC moratorium, or do not qualify for its protection due to loopholes in the order. According to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, nearly 246,000 evictions have been filed by landlords during the pandemic, including tens of thousands with the moratorium in place.
As many as 161,000 Connecticut tenants at risk of eviction: A report from Stout, Risius, Ross LLC using estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Pulse Survey, estimate that between 77,000 and 161,000 tenants in Connecticut are at risk of eviction and owe between $149 million and $274 million in back rent. In addition, January 2021 Pulse Data shows that 48% of people who are Latinx and 23% of people who are Black have little or no confidence that they will be able to pay the rent in February compared to only 12% of people who are white.
Lack of data obscures true nature of eviction crisis: One-third of US counties have no annual eviction figures. Even as city and state governments race to distribute the new rental assistance money appropriated by Congress, they are discovering that data about evictions is so poor, that they do not know who is losing their homes and how to focus aid. The solution is to create a federal eviction database to help track and address housing insecurity. While Connecticut has eviction data for the state collected by the Judicial Branch, the format of the data makes it difficult to access.
Tenants that have an eviction case filed against them as the result of loss of income due to COVID-19 can carry stigma for life: Even if a tenant scraped together money from family or friends or used their stimulus money to pay a rent arrearage, the stigma of an eviction filing will follow them long after the rent arrearage is paid off. It can stay on a person’s credit or tenant report for many years resulting in the loss of housing opportunities. In Connecticut, more people of color rent their homes when compared to whites meaning that this stigma will prevent a disproportionate number of people of color from obtaining desirable housing.
What should tenants know?
The Connecticut eviction moratorium has four exceptions: Until April 20, 2021, a landlord may only serve a Notice to Quit or start an eviction case in court if the tenant:
b) owes six or more months’ worth of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020;
a) owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 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.
The federal CDC eviction moratorium’s protection is not automatic: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut eviction moratorium may still qualify for protection under the federal CDC eviction 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 and each adult in the household must meet specific requirements. To receive protection under the CDC moratorium, each adult in your household (18 or older) should:
- Read the Declaration form and its eligibility requirements carefully;
- Sign the Declaration form, if all the information is true about your situation;
- Give the Declaration form to the landlord; and
- Keep a copy of the signed Declaration.
You can also use a CDC Declaration generator available in English and Spanish to (1) sign the Declaration form electronically, and (2) either email it to yourself and to your landlord or download and print it out. If you already have an eviction case in court, you should also give copies of the declarations to the court.
Visit our website for English and Spanish fact sheets on both the Connecticut and CDC eviction moratoriums.
Paying Rent: Tenants are still required to pay rent, even if they qualify for the Connecticut eviction moratorium or gave a CDC eviction moratorium declaration to their landlord. If you cannot pay your full rent, you should still pay as much of the rent as possible on time and keep any records of your payments. To be protected by the Connecticut moratorium’s ban on nonpayment evictions, you must keep the total amount of rent you owe below 6 months of rent.
211: Additional government rental 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.
Applying a Portion of Your Security Deposit to Rent: Under Executive Order 9T, if you paid a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent, you can apply the portion that is more than one month’s rent toward rent that was due between April 1, 2020 and February 9, 2021. You must make this request to your landlord in writing and should keep a copy of your request.
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.
Connecticut Right to Counsel: In late December, a petition was launched that calls on Connecticut legislators to pass Right to Counsel legislation guaranteeing the right to no-cost legal counsel to all residential tenants facing eviction proceedings. The petition has received more than 970 signatures and 40 organizational endorsements. Learn more about how you can get involved in the campaign and sign the petition.
Homeowners need assistance: Congress is rapidly drafting the next COVID-19 relief and stimulus package, providing much needed support for food assistance, vaccinations, and renter and homelessness relief. However, the proposed package does not include funding for a Housing Assistance Fund to provide direct payments to homeowners at risk of foreclosure. These resources are key elements of an equitable relief package that must be included in this round to avoid massive loss of wealth in communities of color. Advocates are calling on Congress to include a minimum of $75 billion for a Housing Assistance Fund. More than 10 million homeowners are behind on payments, and homeowners of color face a greater risk of losing their homes. While many loans are in forbearance, of the 2.8 million borrowers in active forbearance as of the end of December, 25 percent were private-label loans with no guaranteed method of bringing their loan current at the end of forbearance. Failure to provide targeted assistance to help homeowners become current on their mortgages will result in a massive drain of wealth from communities of color, many of which have not yet even recovered from the 2008 foreclosure crisis. Contact your Senator or Congressional representative to ask that $75 billion be included in the next stimulus package for homeowners affected by COVID-19 income loss.
Recently released data shows extent of mortgage delinquencies in Connecticut communities: Using data from several sources, it is clear that mortgage delinquencies have been at very high levels in many Connecticut communities while the number of people with mortgage forbearances – people falling behind with the temporary permission of their mortgage companies – is also high.
Mortgage forbearance requests extended to March 31, 2021—Effective immediately, the deadline for single family borrowers with FHA-insured mortgages to request an initial COVID-19 forbearance from their mortgage servicer to defer or reduce their mortgage payments for up to six months is extended to through March 31, 2021. If needed, this forbearance can be extended for an additional six months. The deadline to request an initial extension period for HECM borrowers (a/k/a reverse mortgage borrowers) impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is also extended through March 31, 2021.
HUD, USDA, VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac extend foreclosure moratorium: HUD has extended the foreclosure moratorium for FHA loans through March 31, 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 March 31, as has Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The moratoria 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.
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.
- 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.
VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG.
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