On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, nearly a year after the murder of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder, and second-degree manslaughter. We echo the sentiments of Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison when he said, “I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration,” Ellison said. “But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice, and now the cause of justice is in your hands.” Please support the Center as we continue to fight on towards justice for black and brown people in the state of Connecticut.
In today’s update:
Since March 15, 2021, when UniteCT began accepting applications:
- Landlords have filed 998 new summary process (eviction) cases;
- Courts have issued 369 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.
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 white renters.
Applying for UniteCT:
- UniteCT’s emergency rental and utilities assistance is available for individuals with a household income at or below 80% of AMI who have 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.
Problems encountered by UniteCT applicants:
As of April 12, 2021, UniteCT guidelines deem applications ineligible if the person applying is currently receiving other federal or state housing assistance such as a housing choice voucher or is living in public housing. Despite this, Department of Housing (DOH) has stated tenants who have housing subsidies should continue to apply and seek assistance through an appeal process. There are currently no details on how or where to appeal a decision made by UniteCT.
These changes prompted The Bridgeport Housing Authority (aka Park City Communities) to cancel the UniteCT mobile bus on April 14, April 21, and April 28 at their properties. As a result, tenants living in and near housing authority properties will not have the opportunity to use this resource.
Evictions that can be avoided are still happening because rental assistance is not getting distributed quickly or broadly.
It has been reported to the Center that some large housing providers have stated that they will not participate in Unite CT and that certain landlord attorneys are advising their clients not to participate. All landlords and tenants should apply for UniteCT to ensure that they receive the assistance they need to stay in their homes and have all eligible rental arrearages paid.
DOH has stated that it will meet with landlords to convince them to accept UniteCT rental payments even if the landlord states they will not participate in the program. Email DOH at email@example.com if your landlord refuses to participate in the program.
Tenants are not receiving a confirmation email once an application is submitted if the application has missing documents or other information. If the tenant does not receive the confirmation, they should email: firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure the application was submitted.
Landlords are not receiving a confirmation email once a tenant applies. Landlords should email email@example.com or call 1-844-864-8328 to determine why the landlord has not received additional information.
Tenants are in danger of losing their homes to eviction while they await a decision on their UniteCT applications.
Tenants must have written rental agreements to be eligible. If there is no written rental agreement, the landlord and the tenant must sit down together and write one. The rental agreement must have a holdover clause in it meaning that it has to say that the tenant has the right to stay after the agreement expires. If a tenant is unable to get the landlord to write a rental agreement, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The attestation form on the UniteCT website cannot be used in place of paystubs or other proof of employment.
The tenant cannot find out what information is missing from their application. DOH hopes to be able to contact tenants with missing pieces of their application after they have hired additional staff.
Outreach materials on the English-language UniteCT website are currently only available in English, Portuguese, Kreyol, and Polish.
The UniteCT website contains a button to translate all information into Spanish when the site is accessed on a computer, but not when accessed by phone or tablet.
Denying rental assistance to people with housing subsidies or tenants in public housing has a disparate impact on people of color. In Connecticut, 71% of people in public and subsidized housing are people of color. Making assistance available only through a subjective appeals process increases the likelihood of arbitrary and inconsistent decisions that may lead to fair housing violations.
Because many housing authorities and subsidized housing providers will not accept tenants previously evicted from subsidized housing, tenants evicted from subsidized units because of rental arrears will lose their housing and their subsidies and be disqualified from future housing subsidies.
Tenants and their landlords are having trouble completing the online-only application because of lack of reliable internet access.
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.
The Pandemic has inflicted serious and lasting trauma on Connecticut’s most vulnerable populations – particularly working-class renters. Families of color are disproportionately represented among those most severely impacted and most in need of housing stability and assistance. The State must recognize the impact of this trauma by making the vital rental assistance through UniteCT as accessible as possible.
Unfortunately, complex program eligibility requirements, the voluminous required documentation, and technical challenges make it unlikely that UniteCT will successfully distribute its more than $200 million in federal rental assistance.
The Center recommends the following changes to UniteCT to ensure stability and safety for Connecticut’s families:
Right to Counsel Call to Action: We are asking all our supporters to call, email, and tweet at Governor Lamont TODAY. Ask him to support and fund a Right to Counsel for tenants in eviction cases with American Rescue Plan Act funds. Call: (800) 406-1527; Email: Governor.Lamont@ct.gov Tweet: @GovNedLamont. Your support will add to the over 100 healthcare providers, public health researchers, and other healthcare professionals who, on Wednesday, submitted a letter to Governor Lamont asking him to fund a Right to Counsel. For more information, read the Center’s blog post.
Connecticut’s temporary ban on evictions will be in place through May 20, 2021. This means that your landlord cannot start a new eviction case against you untilMay 21, 2021, with some important exceptions– see our website for details.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has placed a nationwide ban on evictions from September 4, 2020 through June 30, 2021.BUT this protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who cannot pay full rent or other housing payment because they have lost income or have very expensive medical bills. To receive this protection, you must provide your landlord with a signed copy of the CDC declaration. – see our website for details.
Visit our website for English and Spanish fact sheets on both the Connecticut and CDC eviction moratoriums.
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.
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.
Help for tenants
The Center’s website has detailed fact sheets for tenants on several issues that impact tenancy and to provide guidance on legal protections available to tenants.
Applying a Portion of Your Security Deposit to Rent: Under Executive Order 10A;
How to tell your landlord about the CDC moratorium;
Filing a complaint to investigate unlawful evictions.
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.
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.
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.
The Center will continue to publish any recent news on foreclosure activity in Connecticut. For news and data previously published, please visit our website.
Help for homeowners
For detailed explanation on how to receive assistance with your tenancy please visit our website.
Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable number of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.
Additional COVID-19 resources
There are up to date additional resources on COVID-19 recovery efforts 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.
Outreach: To schedule trainings on COVID-19 protections for tenants, foreclosure prevention, fair housing, or constituent outreach please contact Rashida Rattray, at email@example.com