We are hiring! The Connecticut Fair Housing Center is hiring a staff attorney to join our team: https://www.ctfairhousing.org/career-opportunities-2/
The Household Pulse Survey published by the Census Bureau, provides data on the effect of the pandemic on the lives of U.S. residents. The latest data, collected between July 21 and August 2, 2021, provides sobering statistics for Connecticut. Of the more than 63,000 Connecticut tenants who report owing rent, 53% had not applied for rental assistance, suggesting significant barriers to access and awareness of the federal relief available for Connecticut’s tenants. The Center estimates that almost all of the respondents to the Census Pulse Survey would be income eligible for emergency rental assistance through Unite CT.
Even the brief expiration of the CDC moratorium had an immediate and devastating impact on tenants in Connecticut with courts issuing 155 executions in the two days after the expiration of the CDC moratorium. This is likely emblematic of what could happen if more is not done.
First, the Governor and the Legislature must keep Executive Order 12D in place. That order, which requires landlords to complete applications for UniteCT before beginning an eviction action, has led to an 81% drop in the number of new eviction filings in the 6 weeks since July 1, 2021 when compared with the 6 weeks prior to July 1. Second, UniteCT must continue to increase the number of tenants approved for benefits by reducing the amount of paperwork and the complexity of the application process and approval. Finally, Connecticut’s courts should follow the advice of Attorney General Merrick B. Garland who urged courts to implement eviction diversion strategies to stave off the eviction crisis confronting our country.
In today’s update:
- 6,645 applications have been approved for payment of a rental and/or utility arrears. Nearly $52.7 million has been paid out or 13.1% of the total funding allocated to Connecticut;
- Landlords have filed 3,091 new summary process (eviction) cases;
- Courts have issued 1,500 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: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 82% of Latinx renters, 46% of Black renters, and 75% of renters of two races believe they are very likely or somewhat likely to be evicted in September compared to only 35% of white renters.
In addition, 25.6% of Latinx homeowners, 19.4% of Black homeowners, and 18% of Asian homeowners are not caught up on their mortgage payments compared to 12.4% of white homeowners.
Connecticut Eviction Moratorium expired June 30, 2021. However, Governor Lamont has issued Executive Order 12D which has been extended through September 30, 2021. See below for details on the E.O. and the Judicial Branch’s efforts to implement that order.
The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium has been extended to October 3, 2021. This protection is NOT automatic. It only applies to tenants who resides in a U.S. county experiencing substantial or high rates of community transmission levels of COVID-19. At present the CDC has found that all of Connecticut’s counties are experiencing substantial or high rates of community transmission levels. In addition, the tenant must demonstrate that they cannot pay full rent or other housing payments 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 form. More information about eligibility requirements and how to complete the CDC declaration is available here. IF A TENANT COMPLETED A CDC DECLARATION PRIOR TO JULY 31, THERE IS NO NEED TO COMPLETE A NEW ONE NOW.
An additional tool has been built by A2JTech that will help you determine if your location is eligible CDC protections against eviction.
Current foreclosure moratoriums:
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: (essentially) until August 31, 2021
- HUD, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Agriculture: These foreclosure moratoriums have ended. However, homeowners can still ask for a forbearance agreement. Homeowners or occupants living in single-family homes backed by an FHA mortgage are protected from eviction through September 30, 2021.
- CFPB’s 2021 Mortgage Servicing Covid-19 Rule: The CFPB Covid-19 servicing rule will implement safeguards to prevent foreclosures from August 31, 2021 until December 31, 2021. The rules apply to most mortgages, not just federally-backed mortgages. Mortgage companies will not be able to start most foreclosures without reviewing homeowners for a workout option.
- Tenants living in multifamily properties with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgage cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent through September 30, 2021. Additional tenant protections include not charging tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent and allowing tenants flexibility in repayment of back rent over time and not demanding a lump sum payment. Finally, landlords evicting for reasons other than nonpayment of rent must give a 30-day notice.
No foreclosure moratorium is in place: Homeowners who are behind on their mortgages (except as they might be covered in the future by the CFPB Mortgage Servicing Covid-19 Rule) or who owe condominium fees, real estate taxes, or other real estate related taxes are not protected from foreclosure. Since January 1, 2021, 44% of all foreclosure actions filed were for non-mortgage foreclosures: 11% were filed by municipalities; 14% were filed by condominium associations; 15% were filed by private 3rd parties who bought tax and sewer liens from municipalities.
E.O. 12D and the Judicial Branch’s Implementation
- UniteCT rental assistance program prior to delivering a notice to quit for nonpayment of rent. The UniteCT case number must be included on the Notice to Quit;
To implement E.O. 12D, the Judicial Branch has instructed its Housing Court Clerks to review all residential non-payment notices to quit served between July 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021:
In addition, the Housing Court Clerks have been told:
If during a mediation either the landlord or the tenant notifies the mediator that a UniteCT application has been submitted, then mediators will inform the judge about the application so that an order stopping the proceedings, which could include ordering a continuance of the matter for more than 30 days, can enter.
As the result of the renewal of the CDC moratorium, the Judicial Branch has now told the courts to do the following:
What E.O. 12D means for tenants:
- https://ctlawhelp.org/en/evictions-during-coronavirus-crisis to get information about what to do next.
- https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT. Write down your application number so you can share it with the court. Then notify your landlord by phone, email, and text that you have applied to UniteCT and ask them to complete their part of the application.
- https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT-Check-Status-of-Application to check the status of your application and to determine if your landlord has completed an application.
If the landlord refuses to participate in UniteCT, tenants should do the following:
- Call the Connecticut Fair Housing Center at 860-247-4400 to do an intake. The Center is reviewing cases where the landlord refused to participate in UniteCT to determine if there is a violation of the Connecticut’s requirement that landlord’s accept housing assistance.
- Apply for a security deposit and up to 12 months future rent to be paid to a new landlord through UniteCT.
Tenants whose landlords have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage have additional protections: On July 28, 2021, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that tenants of multifamily properties with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) who are subject to eviction for nonpayment of rent must be given 30 days’ notice to vacate before the tenant can be required to leave the unit.
DOH continues to make changes to the UniteCT program to meet the needs of tenants and landlords. Check the UniteCT website and the guidance on the program frequently to get the latest updates. Currently, tenants eligible for UniteCT are entitled to:
- Reasonable accommodations: People with disabilities who need assistance filling out an application for UniteCT or with any other aspect of the program, should send an email to UniteCTReasonableAccommodation@ct.gov or call 1-844-864-8328 and ask for a reasonable accommodation such as someone to help fill out an application, or upload documents, or any other change in the application process or program that will help the person who is disabled participate in the program.
- Qualifying census tract: Applicants for UniteCT who live in census tracts where the majority of people have income at or below 80% of AMI are not required to upload any income documentation. The UniteCT pre-application will make the determination as to whether the applicants live in a qualifying census tract.
- Participation in other benefit programs qualify a tenant for UniteCT: Applicants who receive benefits from Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), and the state supplement will be eligible for UniteCT without additional income verification;
- $15,000 in rental arrearage payments: Tenants will now be eligible to receive up to $15,000 in rental arrearage payments for any rent owed after March 13, 2020 regardless of the number of months owed. If, based on the application, it is clear the tenant needs more than $15,000 to clear their arrearage, UniteCT will review the application and determine if additional funds will be paid;
- No need to write-off 15% of arrears: Landlords will not be required to write-off 15% of the rental arrearage;
- Tenants not obligated to contribute to future rent for 3 months: If tenants are eligible for prospective rental payments through UniteCT, the tenant will not be required to contribute any rent for the first three months of prospective payments;
- Public and subsidized tenants eligible: UniteCT will provide benefits to tenants who live in public or subsidized housing. Anyone who has been denied benefits because they live in public or subsidized housing should contact email@example.com immediately. At present, UniteCT staff are working with housing authorities to determine if there is a way for housing authorities to submit bulk applications on behalf of their tenants for the program.
UniteCT’s tech bus provides the necessary technology to apply for rental assistance. Tenants and housing providers who may not have access to the technology required to complete an application for rental assistance are encouraged to visit the bus. To learn more about the bus please contact the host agencies. There are no stops scheduled for Monday August 16, Tuesday, August 17, and Friday, August 20, 2021.
When: Wednesday, August 18, 10 am – 3 pm
Location: Trumbull Gardens, 505 Trumbull Avenue Bridgeport, CT 06606
Contact: Irma J. Ross, firstname.lastname@example.org, 203-337-8803
When: Thursday, August 19, 10am – 3pm
Location: Court House, 300 Grand St. Waterbury, CT 06702
Contact: Denise Martinez, email@example.com, 203-598-1781
Homeowner Assistance Funds—The American Rescue Plan includes money to prevent mortgage delinquencies and defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020. The State of Connecticut is participating in this program and has already begun a pilot program that will provide up to $20,000 in grants to homeowners whose income is at or below 80% of AMI and who are socially or economically disadvantaged. Connecticut must next submit its program design for approval to the Treasury Department.
Fannie and Freddie expand use of interest rate reductions: On June 30, 2021, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that they would expand their interest rate reduction programs. Flex Modification terms will be adjusted for COVID-19 hardships making interest rate reduction possible for eligible borrowers, regardless of the borrower’s loan-to-value ratio.
CFPB issues rules to facilitate transition from the expiration of federal protections: On June 28, 2021, the CFPB issued rules to transition from the expiration of federal foreclosure protections. The rules take effect on August 31, 2021 and end on December 31, 2021. Under the rules, servicers can only start a foreclosure if the borrower:
- Has abandoned the property;
- Was more than 120 days behind on their mortgage before March 1, 2020;
- Is more than 120 days behind on their mortgage payments and has not responded to specific required outreach from the mortgage servicer for 90 days; or
- Has been evaluated for all options other than foreclosure and there are no available options to avoid foreclosure.
This protection applies to many, but not all, mortgages.
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 videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.
The Connecticut Fair Housing Center is hiring a staff attorney to join our team: https://www.ctfairhousing.org/career-opportunities-2/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org