February 26, 2021
Evictions are a racial justice issue. Black and Latinx families are twice as likely to have evictions filed against them as white families. The Center is working with tenants and advocates to ensure that tenants are represented when they are in danger of losing their homes to eviction. Please join us.
Since the public health emergency began on March 10, 2020, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:
- Landlords have filed 3,863 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
- Courts have issued 1,063 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 18, 2021:
Hearing Scheduled on Right to Counsel and Eviction Record Sealing Bills: On Thursday, March 4 at 11 a.m., the Housing Committee of the Connecticut Legislature will hold a remote public hearing on HB 6531, a bill that would guarantee the right to no-cost legal counsel to most residential tenants facing eviction proceedings, and on HB 6528, a bill that would seal eviction records. Interested in testifying? Sign up to get a copy of the Connecticut Right to Counsel testimony guide, register for a public testimony teach-in on Tuesday, March 2 at 6 p.m., and find more resources here.
Homelessness Prevention Program: The Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) run by the Coordinated Access Network throughout Connecticut is providing assistance to tenants at risk of becoming homeless. The program provides payment of some rental arrearages to people who have received a Notice to Quit from their landlord, have been unable to pay rent on or after March 1, 2020, and have income at or below 50% of the 2020 Area Median Income. To apply, tenants should call 2-1-1 and ask about the Homelessness Prevention Program.
Utilities seek permission to resume shut-offs: Eversource and United Illuminating have requested permission to end a shut-off moratorium that gave relief to customers during the COVID pandemic. Lamont along with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it’s too early to resume shut-offs. The state is also asking the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to consider extending repayment terms past 24-months for the COVID repayment plan. In its request to resume shut-offs, Eversource said it would send affected customers a transition letter and email that will remind them of COVID-19 payment plans, hardship protections, and any programs for which they may be eligible. Customers who enroll in a COVID-19 payment program can pay their past-due bills over a 24-month period without risk of having their utilities shut off. PURA has not indicated when it will rule on the requests.
Racial segregation in Connecticut is no accident: Homeowners in West Hartford and other Connecticut communities have opposed multifamily housing for years. In a hearing before the Legislature’s Housing Committee on February 18, residents from Fairfield County and elsewhere made clear that their opposition to changes in zoning laws and local control over where affordable housing was located was due to who would live in the housing. Using coded language about affordable housing destroying the character of the community or making towns look like urban areas, legislators and community residents spoke out in opposition to any proposed legislation that would open white suburbs to people of color. As set out in a recent Hartford Courant article, local control and consideration of the character of the community has led to the extreme segregation seen in Connecticut today. The current legislative session offers one more opportunity to change these patterns.
HUD scrutinizes Connecticut’s laws to determine if they permit housing discrimination: When President Joe Biden took office, his administration inherited an unresolved complaint and lawsuit that civil rights attorneys filed last fall, charging that Connecticut’s housing laws which leave most decisions to local officials are harmful to Black and Latinx residents. Now, while U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Justice determine if the state is violating federal fair housing laws by limiting where Section 8 housing vouchers can be used and where affordable housing can be developed state lawmakers for the fourth consecutive year are considering whether to tackle the issue before the federal government decides whether to step in.
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. Below is a table of eligibility for all Connecticut residents to receive a vaccine.
|Age||Eligible for vaccination|
|Ages 65 and older||Now|
|Ages 55 and older as well as school employees||March 1|
|Ages 45 – 54||March 22|
|Ages 35 – 44||April 12|
|Ages 16 – 34||May 3|
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).
Federal extension of the foreclosure moratorium: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced an extension of their foreclosure moratorium to June 30, 2021. This announcement matches what the Biden administration had announced for FHA, VA, and USDA loans. This extension will also provide additional mortgage payment forbearance for those who qualify.
Tenant move out stopped: A Hartford family with two young children avoided losing their home in the middle of last week’s snowstorm after community activists connected the family to legal assistance and rallied to protest their eviction by a tax-delinquent, New York landlord. At a hearing in which the tenant was represented by a Center attorney, the parties agreed to give the family 30 days to find a new place to live.
Tenants buried in unfair fees and costs: As tenants struggle to prevent eviction as the result of nonpayment of rent, landlords and their lawyers continue to charge fess and costs making it nearly impossible for tenants to stay housed. Fees and costs that prevent tenants from staying in their homes are prevalent across the country and routinely added to the cost of reinstating a tenancy in Connecticut.
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, called UniteCT will open.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is losing bank branches at more than twice the national rate: Over the last decade, the number of bank branches in the state has dropped by 201 locations, for an overall closure rate of 16 percent. The national closure rate over the same period was 6 percent. The recent announcement that PeoplesUnited is being acquired by M&T Bank Corporation increases the likelihood that bank branches will continue to close. A preliminary analysis of the proposed branch closures reveals that branches in communities of color or communities adjacent to neighborhoods of color will be closed at higher numbers than those in communities that are majority white.
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.
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.
Foreclosure mediations starting up again. The Judicial Branch announced today, February 25, that it was resuming foreclosure mediation sessions for eligible mortgage foreclosures. See here for more details.
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.
- 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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