March 26, 2021
On March 26, 2021, the Connecticut Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on H.B. 6662 which would declare racism a public health crisis. Whether it is the murder of Asian women in Atlanta or the anti-Muslim vitriol directed at the shooter in Boulder (compared with the relative empathy demonstrated by some for the shooter in Atlanta), racism runs rampant in our country. Connecticut is not immune. Many white residents voiced their fear of people who could move into their communities if zoning rules were changed during a recent 24-hour hearing before the CGA’s Planning and Development Committee. Racism is a public health crisis. Please join us in the fight to ensure that all Connecticut communities welcome all people.
Unsung Heroines: An Ode to Women of Color in Fair Housing is a presentation hosted by the Connecticut Fair Housing Center to celebrate fair housing month. The panel will recognize the contributions women of color have made in the fair housing movement. We will explore why housing needs to be a part of every conversation about racial equity, and why it is so heavily resisted. Lisa Rice, the President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance will be our keynote speaker. This is a free and remote event taking place on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, please register to receive webinar link. Learn more about the event on our Facebook.
Since the public health emergency began one year ago, on March 10, 2020, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:
- Landlords have filed 4,640 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
- Courts have issued 1,307 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 March 19, 2021:
UniteCT accepting applications: The new emergency rental and utilities assistance program, called UniteCT, opened on Monday, March 15, 2021. The assistance is available to everyone with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who has experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications must be made on-line. A list of the documents which must be included with an application can be found here. Visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT to apply or call 1-844-864-8328 to get a referral to a community agency who may be able to assist tenants in applying.
Rents going up for low-income renters: The past year has seen rent hikes on lower-quality housing usually occupied by low-income tenants with steep discounts on luxury apartment catering to the rich. This tracks the economic recovery where higher income households have seen little income changes while lower- and moderate-income households are losing income and are in danger of losing their homes. The increasing rents for lower-income tenants has been seen in Connecticut in Fairfield and New Haven Counties where people from New York City have fled to escape the pandemic. Landlords are raising rents for people who are low-income in an effort to get them to move out, which will allow these landlords to rent to the New York newcomers.
Racial disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 42% of Latinx families and 51% of Black families have little or no confidence in their ability to pay rent in March compared to 14% of white families.
Source of income discrimination still prevalent: A fair housing organization filed suit against 88 brokerage firms and landlords in New York City accusing them of discriminating against people based on their source of income. As one woman who was the victim of source of income discrimination said, “The roller-coaster ride they put me in, I had a mental breakdown . . . You are playing with someone’s life.” The Center is receiving reports of Connecticut landlords refusing to accept emergency rental assistance, which can also be a violation of the Connecticut fair housing laws.
CFPB director nominee calls decision in Center tenant-screening case a “landmark”: During his confirmation hearing to head the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rohit Chopra claimed that tenant screening practices may constitute unlawful discrimination, stating “[w]hen it comes to opportunities like housing and employment, background screeners can play a pivotal role in determining whether an applicant is accepted or denied, since they provide detailed dossiers of personal information. If their practices are discriminatory, they can and should be held accountable.” In support for this argument Chopra embraced what he termed the “landmark decision” Connecticut Fair Housing Center v. CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions, LLC, 369 F. Supp. 3d 362 (D. Conn. 2019).
24-hour public hearing produces little agreement on how to address Connecticut’s affordable housing crisis: While most legislators and people testifying at the Planning and Development public hearing on affordable housing agreed that Connecticut’s housing is too expensive, few agreed on how to resolve the problem. In addition, many legislators who questioned advocates of zoning reform appeared unable to understand that a failure to provide affordable housing resulted reinforcing segregation patterns, believing that maintaining the status quo would somehow lead to different results. Advocates argued that zoning reform would result in more affordable housing in more locations and would permit people of color access to many of Connecticut’s communities. The Planning and Development Committee has not determined how to move forward with these bills.
IRS extension to file taxes: The IRS announced that it was extending the date to file taxes to May 17, 2021.
Congress passes the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA): The American Rescue Plan Act provides COVID-19 relief funds to address many pandemic related financial issues including low-income renters, people behind on their utility payments, and people experiencing homelessness. Connecticut is expected to receive a total of $10 billion.Of the $10 billion, Connecticut will receive approximately $216 million for emergency rental assistance and approximately $50 million for new housing choice vouchers. The bill will also bring approximately $99.6 million to help homeowners avoid foreclosure through the Homeowner Assistance Fund.
Federal and State jury trials set to resume: Officials in both the State and Federal court systems have indicated they expect to start jury trials again in early May. At this time, the federal courts are prioritizing jury trials in criminal cases. While jurors who have been scheduled for duty in state court have had their jury service cancelled through April 30, 2021, the state courts are also expected to resume jury trials in May.
Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine: The table below contains the latest information on who qualifies to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
|Age||Eligible for vaccination|
|Ages 65 and older||Now|
|Ages 55 and older as well as school employees||Now|
|Ages 45 – 54||March 19|
|Ages 35 – 44||April 5 (tentative)|
|Ages 16 – 34||April 5 (tentative)|
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). Deaf and hard of- hearing can access the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line through the Connecticut Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1. The Assist Line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The phone number to call for vaccination scheduling is: 877-918-2224.
Right to counsel is a racial justice issue: Since the Connecticut eviction moratorium began on April 10, 2020, over 3,000 Connecticut households have had eviction cases filed against them. Over half of these households were Black or Latinx, even though these groups combined comprise less than a quarter of the overall population. In Connecticut, less than 7 percent of tenants facing eviction—and just 5 percent of Black and Latinx tenants facing eviction—have legal counsel compared to over 80 percent of landlords. Connecticut has been in a housing crisis for years, with four cities ranking in the top 100 evicting cities. Passing H.B. 6531, a bill that would create a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction will not only help prevent evictions, but also make a huge difference for communities of color. The eviction crisis is a racial justice crisis, and right to counsel legislation provides one of the most immediate tools to generate positive change.
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.
Connecticut eviction moratorium expires 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.
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 is scheduled to end on March 31: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut eviction moratorium may still qualify for protection under the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent 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 the moratorium is scheduled to end on March 31.
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.
Foreclosures could soften the housing market: As of Friday, March 5, the Judicial Branch listed 200 homes and commercial properties in foreclosure. However, with the June 30 end to the federal moratorium on foreclosure of Fannie and Freddie properties approaching, real estate brokers are worried that additional foreclosures properties on the market could result in softening the sales market.
Fannie and Freddie extend time to apply for a forbearance to June 30, 2021: The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to qualifying multifamily property owners through June 30, 2021, subject to the continued tenant protections FHFA has imposed during the pandemic. The programs were set to expire March 31, 2021. This extends the eviction protections in place for tenants in 5+ unit properties where the landlord has obtained a mortgage forbearance from Fannie/Freddie.
Mediations resuming in foreclosure cases: On February 25, 2021, the Judicial Branch announced that it will resume scheduling mediations beginning on March 1, 2021. Premediation and mediation will take place involving mortgage foreclosures s that do not involve federally backed mortgages. At this time, all premediations and mediations will be held virtually, not in person.
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 People’s United 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 email@example.com.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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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