March 24, 2020

What happened on March 23, 2020:

  • Foreclosures and evictions: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that they will offer multifamily property owners mortgage forbearance with the condition that they suspend all evictions for renters unable to pay rent due to the impact of coronavirus. Reach the announcement here. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s 60-day stay on foreclosures and evictions and forbearance allowance announced last week only applies to single family homes. Through this additional measure Fannie and Freddie will protect more homes from foreclosure and are forcing landlords to pass the protection down to their tenants.
  • Suspension of nonregulatory actions: The Center joined a letter organized by Americans for Financial Reform to request a total suspension of all non-crisis related regulatory actions until after national emergency is lifted. You can read the letter here.
  • Changes in bankruptcy procedures: The Center joined a letter organized by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys to request bankruptcy relief required to address economic crisis caused by COVID 19. The letter asks for the following:
    • A national homestead exemption;
  • Increased debt limits (important for people w- businesses – the unsecured debt limit is in the mid-300Ks);
  • Extend time to complete payments on a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan;
  • Improve the hardship discharge section for victims of disaster (people who don’t finish Chapter 13 plans can get a partial discharged
  • Exempt Covid 19 benefits (e.g., checks from treasury)
  • Reverse mortgages: With other advocates for homeowner rights, the Center asked HUD to take certain steps to ensure the ongoing housing stability of borrowers who have taken out reverse mortgages under FHA’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program, and their non-borrowing spouses.  The requests ask that with respect to reverse mortgage borrowers, HUD further protect the vulnerable elderly population by taking the following steps:
  • Make clear that the reasonable diligence deadline for servicers to initiate an assignment through the MOE program for surviving spouses also has been extended by 60 days, and consider further extensions as needed;
  • Direct servicers to make property charge payments only where no repayment arrangement, extension, or tax foreclosure moratorium has been granted by the taxing authority, because otherwise it will put many homeowners at risk of reverse mortgage foreclosure at a time when the taxing authority was not threatening to foreclose;
  • When servicers do make tax payments on behalf of HECM borrowers during the state of emergency, provide for an additional 6-month delay in taking the first legal action to foreclose, so that homeowners have the opportunity to repay the advances, and encourage full use of loss mitigation to prevent avoidable foreclosures;
  • Expand access to loss mitigation for qualified homeowners by extending all deadlines related to acceptance of loss mitigation options, including the return of any loss mitigation agreements, and by allowing for new repayment plans when borrowers default during the national emergency; and
  • Extend the foreclosure and eviction moratorium announced on March 18th to at least six months, with a commensurate extension of reasonable diligence deadlines imposed on mortgagees.
  • Expanding fair housing efforts: The Center called on Congress to make $300 million available to fair housing organizations to serve victims of discrimination during and after this time of crisis.
  • $55 million for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) to ensure local fair housing organizations can deliver fair housing services to victims of discrimination.
  • $35 million for the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) so that local and state civil rights agencies can continue to process complaints of discrimination.
  • $200 million for HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) to adequately address the expected increase in discrimination and to ensure HUD’s own emergency response programs are delivered in a way that affirmatively furthers fair housing.
  • An additional $10 million for FHIP national media grants made available to previously-funded national media grantees to educate the public and the housing industry about their fair housing rights and responsibilities during this crisis.
  • $3 million of FHIP funds specifically for Fair Housing Organization Initiative (FHOI) grants for technology needs to help grantees transition to virtual fair housing services, made automatically available to grantees that received FY19 Private Enforcement Initiatives awards or that receive awards made available under the COVID-19 packages.
  • Public housing authorities: Only 33% of the housing authorities in the state have posted information on their website about how they will serve their tenants’ needs during the crisis. To find out more information about how a housing authority is responding to Covid-19, check the following links:
  • People who are homeless: The Department of Housing and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH) are hoping to provide individual rooms for people who are homeless by leasing hotel rooms and dorm rooms. We hope to get additional information on this effort soon. Many of the overflow shelters are closing because there is not enough staff. People who are calling 2-1-1 to find a shelter bed are being diverted to stay with family or friends. Many soup kitchens are providing meals on a grab-and-go basis.
  • People who are homeless: DOH and CCEH have made funds available for rapid exit/rapid re-housing.  However, these efforts are slowed by the difficulty in reaching landlords and finding units. The funds could help house people in shelters as well as those who may be moved into hotels/dorms. Applications/leasing/inspections has been a challenge with everyone working virtually.
  • People who are about to be released from incarceration: CCEH is working with OPM/DOC/DOH to make funds available for rapid re-housing for people who are at end of of their sentences and otherwise being discharged to homelessness.
  • Outreach: Staff distributed daily housing update to over 450 advocates, and the entire Connecticut General Assembly. If you want this daily update delivered to your inbox, click here.
  • Outreach: Staff is collaborating with statewide agencies to deliver fair housing Covid-19 related training to frontline social service staff across the state.
  • Outreach: State of Connecticut added the Center’s daily updates onto the resources available for Homeowners and Renters found here.

What has NOT happened:

  • The majority of housing authorities in the state have not notified their tenants regarding any changes in procedures: 66% of the 49 housing authority websites reviewed have no information about their operations during the Covid-19 crisis.
  • A suspension of contractual and statutory landlord/tenant obligations. The moratorium is about finishing eviction actions but not about rent payments.
  • Judgments dismissing summary process cases are not being entered.
  • No announcement from the Judicial Branch that self-help evictions are not allowed even though finishing an eviction through the courts is not permitted.
  • No moratorium on the imposition of late fees or costs when a tenant is late paying the rent.
  • No moratorium on the service of notices to quit.
  • No moratorium on the service or filing of summary process complaints.
  • No moratorium on the imposition of late fees or costs when a homeowner is late making a mortgage payment.
  • No moratorium on the cancellation of a trial payment plan when a homeowner is unable to pay due to a layoff or partial layoff.
  • No directives about what should happen to people living in homeless encampments.
  • The federal stimulus package and state relief package do not appear to include funding for: Money to pay rent or utility bills for people whose employment is affected by the Covid-19 crisis;
  • Money for utility shut-off restoration once the moratorium ends and people are again faced with loss of utilities;
  • Additional lawyers to represent tenants in evictions and homeowners in foreclosure filed after the current moratoriums on filing new cases is lifted;
  • Housing counselors who can advise tenants and homeowners of the resources available to them to keep their homes after the current moratoriums are lifted as well as to avoid scams that may result in them losing money and their housing;
  • Additional mediators for Connecticut’s Foreclosure Mediation Program to assist all of the homeowners who will be faced with foreclosure actions once the moratorium on filing new foreclosure cases is lifted;
  • Nonprofits who have shifted their priorities to serve low-income people affected by the Covid-19 crisis but do not have funding to do so.
  • People continue to live in substandard conditions and cannot get assistance in moving out even though the conditions are harming them and their families.
  • Many closing dates for people buying homes have been postponed or canceled because town clerk’s offices are closed or open only limited hours. Title insurers have made arrangements to provide “gap” coverage for these circumstances.
  • Nonjudicial municipal tax sales are not subject to the moratorium on judicial foreclosures; redemption periods continue to run for affected homeowners

What we are learning from our clients

  • Tenants do not know what is happening regarding help for people who have lost their jobs and cannot pay rent as well as whether they can be evicted even though the courts are closed.
  • Tenants in mobile home parks have no information about whether the judicial moratorium on move outs applies to them.
  • Tenants are finding it increasingly difficult to get in touch with landlords to find out where to pay rent, whether problems can be fixed, and how to request a change in a rule, policy or practice.
  • People continue to face homelessness due to landlords turning them down for apartments.
  • Tenants continue to face harassment from landlords.
  • Landlords continue to issue notices to quit.
  • Tenants are being harassed by other tenants because of their race and national origin.
  • Homeowners who negotiated a mortgage modification with a trial payment plan are again in danger of losing their homes because a layoff or reduction in hours has resulted in an inability to comply with the agreed upon payment plan.
  • People continue to lose jobs and income as bars, restaurants, hairdressers, etc. close.

Get Help

  • For a list of assistance available from the federal government, click here. This page is updated frequently so continue to check back.
  • Contact your mortgage company about getting a forbearance on your mortgage if you have been laid off or lost income/hours. Click here to find out more and to find out if you have a Fannie Mae mortgage or here to find out more and to find out if you have a Freddie Mac mortgage.
  • Call the housing authority administering your Section 8 and ask if they will postpone a voucher termination.
  • If you experience a drop in income and you live in pubic or subsidized housing, report it immediately. Ask to have your rent reduced immediately so that you do not fall behind.
  • Call the Center if you think you have been the victim of housing discrimination. Telephone: 860-247-4400; toll free: 888-246-4401; email: