April 8, 2021
Sunday, April 11, 2021, is the 53rd anniversary of passage of the Fair Housing Act. The Center is celebrating Fair Housing Month by listening to women of color who continue to fight for the goals of the Fair Housing Act. Register for Unsung Heroines: An Ode to Women of Color in Fair Housing where we will be joined by Lisa Rice, Keenya Robertson, Vanessa Lilies, Karen DuBois-Walton, and Monique Price-Taylor who will share their triumphs and struggles in fighting for housing equity. 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.
The Center has partnered with Target Circle. Please follow our social media to learn how you can help support the Center with your Target shopping for the next ninety days!
Since the public health emergency began one year ago, on March 10, 2020, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:
- Landlords have filed 5,004 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
- Courts have issued 1,421 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 April 1, 2021:
UniteCT is 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 and landlords in applying.
The latest news on the use of UniteCT by tenants and landlords:
- The Department of Housing (DOH) has announced that it will be publishing data on UniteCT’s program efficacy and equity on Fridays;
- DOH reports that more than 3,200 landlords and tenants have completed applications for UniteCT;
- 669 new summary process (eviction) cases have been filed since UniteCT started taking applications on March 15, 2021 and more than 376 renting families have lost possession of their units during that time;
- Even though there are community agencies assisting with applications, tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application because many do not have reliable access to the internet;
- The online application portal is not fully accessible for tools used by individuals with hearing and vision impairments;
- The online application’s “Help Portal” does not translate the instructions into any language other than English;
- Outreach materials are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
The CDC has extended the federal eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021. To receive the moratorium’s protection, eligible tenants must fill out a declaration form and give it to their landlord. See more details below under the eviction section of this update.
Racial and ethnic disparities continue in recovery from pandemic-related economic hardship: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 26% of Latinx renters and 17% of Black renters have slight or no confidence in their ability to pay rent next month compared to 10% of whites.
The Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFPB) is investigating complaints from tenants whose landlords file unlawful evictions that violate the moratorium. In a fact sheet released by the White House the administration explains that CFPB will monitor and investigate eviction practices to ensure that companies are complying with the law. Tenants can submit complaints to the CFPB, and learn more about their rights under the current ban on evictions.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a statement explaining that landlords have an obligation to let tenants know about the CDC moratorium before trying to evict them. “Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or evicting or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices.”
Ask Gov. Lamont to Use Federal Funds for a Right to Counsel for Tenants: Connecticut has a historic opportunity to use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to launch a right to counsel program for tenants facing eviction. Evictions cause homelessness and negatively impact education, employment, health, and future housing stability. Access to counsel for tenants is an intervention that can save the state money in shelter costs, emergency services, child welfare, and education. Reports measure a cost savings that is 2 to 12 times greater than the investment. Use this script to call, write, and tweet at Governor Lamont to fund the Right to Counsel with federal relief funds in H.B. 6531.
The 15th annual Fair Housing & Civil Rights Conference begins Tuesday, April 13, 2021. The conference features keynote speakers Tiffany Manuel (DrT), Deborah Archer, and Jeanine Worde. Registration is free and workshops are remote.
Housing attorneys with the Center confirm that the Connecticut eviction moratorium does not protect the most vulnerable tenants. Attorney Melissa Marichal explains that the serious nonpayment exception in the state’s eviction moratorium has increased eviction case filings and left those tenants most impacted by the pandemic vulnerable to eviction.
IRS extension to file taxes: The IRS announced that it was extending the date to file taxes to May 17, 2021.
Connecticut residents can register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for a vaccine. Appointments can be made online or by calling 860-972-4993 (Hartford HealthCare), 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 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 now scheduled to end on June 30, 2021: 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. 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. 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 10A, 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 from April 1, 2020 through April 19, 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.
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.
The State’s uneven recovery and its effect on homeowners: Across Connecticut, lower-income families are facing foreclosure at higher rates, renters are facing a wave of evictions, and a hot housing market and ever-changing banking rules are putting home-ownership further out of reach. Federal aid might help, but the problems have deep roots — and in many ways, the coronavirus pandemic has only made things worse. At least one out of every 14 residential mortgages in Connecticut was delinquent or in foreclosure in February, the 13th highest rate in the United States and well above the state’s pre-pandemic level, according to the real estate data firm Black Knight. But in ZIP codes in Connecticut where more people of color and more people with limited English proficiency live, there are much higher rates of people behind on their mortgages, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta show. For example, in the Hill neighborhood in New Haven, one out of every nine residential mortgages was behind in November, compared to one in 31 mortgages a few miles away in Branford.
Lower-income homeowners get cheated on property taxes: Quoting a report by a University of Chicago researcher, the New York Times reports that local governments are failing at the basic task of accurately assessing property values, and there is a clear and striking pattern: more expensive properties are undervalued, while less expensive properties are overvalued. The result is that wealthy homeowners get a big tax break, while less affluent homeowners are paying a higher price for the same public services. For example, in Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, 1,015 homes were sold for exactly $100,000 from 2007 to 2016. Their average assessed value before the sale was $151,585. During the same decade, 149 homes sold for exactly $1 million. Their average presale assessed value: $647,030. These distortions in assessed values carry through directly to tax bills.
Connecticut’s real estate market tightens. Families seeking affordable homeownership will likely be left out of this real estate boom. Most communities in Connecticut saw an increase in cost and overall sales in 2020.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 foreclosure 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 that do not involve federally backed mortgages. At this time, all premediations and mediations will be held virtually, not in person.
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 to receive individualized legal information and advice. 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 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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