ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
August 27, 2020
Governor extends eviction moratorium to October 1: At his press conference on Thursday, August 20, Governor Lamont announced he was extending the eviction moratorium until October 1, 2020. The Executive Order states that no Notice to Quit or Summary Process complaint can be given to a tenant or filed before October 1, 2020 with certain exceptions. A landlord is permitted to send Notices to Quit for non-payment of rent owed before February 29, 2020, for serious nuisance, or if the landlord plans to use the unit as their personal residence and the existing rental agreement has ended. The Judicial Branch has still not determined if it will postpone the use of executions beyond September 1, foreclosure law days beyond September 9, or sale dates beyond October 3. The Center will send an update as soon as this issue is decided.
Apply for TRHAP on-line: As of Wednesday, August 12, the Department of Housing’s Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program is available to everyone who has moderate income and owes rent because of COVID-19. You can apply on-line or by telephone, 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here.
TRHAP Media Outreach Kit: The Center has produced a social media outreach kit to increase outreach and multi-language access to the State’s rental assistance program. We are asking our partners to please post information about the rental assistance program on their social media channels. The toolkit will be continuously updated, so please check back often for more tools.
Apply for T-MAP on-line: CFHA’s Temporary Mortgage Assistance Program to assist homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgage, the Temporary Mortgage Assistance Program, now has an on-line application in English. It has not yet been translated into Spanish. To apply for assistance by telephone, call 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here.
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. The program began on August 7, with 8 slots weekly, and it will expand if there’s enough demand from homeowners and capacity for us. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment.
What happened since August 21, 2020:
- Federal foreclosure moratorium and evictions extended to December 31: The Federal Home Finance Authority and the Federal Housing Administration announced that they will extend the moratorium on single-family foreclosures and evictions from Real Estate Owned (REO) properties through December 31, 2020. The foreclosure moratorium applies to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac single-family mortgages only. The REO eviction moratorium applies to properties that have been acquired by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac through foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transactions. The current moratoria were set to expire on August 31, 2020.
- FHA delinquency rate now the highest ever recorded—The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact homeowners’ ability to make their mortgage payments. According to Black Knight, FHA delinquency rates are now at 15.65%, the highest ever recorded since the survey of delinquencies began in 1979. Overall, the number of seriously delinquent mortgages, meaning payments overdue by 90 days or more, rose to the highest rate since early 2010. While the CARES Act forbids forbearances to be reported to credit bureaus as late payments, the mortgage industry still tallies suspended payments as missed payments.
- Rental assistance program falls short: Even though the State is doubling the amount of rental assistance money to help renters unable to pay rent as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates say the funding will fall short of the need. The new funding will help approximately additional 2,500 households and applications are still being taken.
- Residential utility shut-off moratorium. On September 9, 2020 the residential utility shut-off moratorium will end for non-hardship customers. Non-hardship customers are those utility customers who have no financial hardship but have been protected from shut off during the pandemic. On October 31, the residential utility shut-off moratorium will end for hardship customers. If you are unable to pay for your utilities, contact your gas or electric company to get coded as “financial hardship” customers so that you can be protected from upcoming shut-offs after the end of the moratorium. Contact the utilities directly, call 2-1-1 for more information or contact local community action agencies for help.
- Energy assistance. Community action agencies began accepting energy assistance applications on August 3. Anyone seeking to apply for energy assistance should contact their local community action agency, as much of the paperwork will be done by mail, with few in-person appointments this year. DSS also has an on-line energy assistance application this year, but it must be downloaded and sent to the local community action agency with other qualifying information
- $300 increase in unemployment benefits. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved a grant for Connecticut to authorize an additional $300 a week in unemployment assistance. For approximately 250,000 unemployed people in Conn. this will be added to their average benefit of $269 a week. To be eligible for the added $300 a week, the unemployed person must be receiving at least $100 in unemployment benefits. Contact the unemployment office for eligibility requirements.
- As evictions loom, lawyers are gearing up to help. Legal assistance attorneys all over the country and in Connecticut are gearing up to help with the wave of evictions that are sure to follow the end of many states’ eviction moratorium. For many low-income renters, having a lawyer represent them in their eviction case can mean the difference between being evicted or being able to stay in their homes. Across the country, landlords are represented at least 80% of the time while tenants have lawyers in fewer than 10% of cases.
- Black homeowners have their homes appraised for less. A Black homeowner in a Hartford suburb found that his home appraised for more after he removed family photos and movie posters with Black protagonists and had a white neighbor stand in for him during a second appraisal. Such experiences are not unique with many Black homeowners having their homes appraised for less than their white neighbors. This appraisal disparity prevents many Black homeowners from building equity and further perpetuates income inequality.
- Connecticut’s suburban strategy. A history of redlining, discrimination in lending and real estate sales, and exclusionary zoning have resulted in high degrees of segregation with people of color, and particularly low-income people of color being shut out of majority white suburbs. Promoting integration and access to the benefits and lifestyles available throughout Connecticut requires a dual approach that opens up the suburbs and invests in cities.
- Eviction Lab publishes Connecticut data: The Eviction Lab, begun by sociologist Matthew Desmond, has begun publishing data gathered by the Connecticut Fair Housing Center on the number of new summary process actions filed every day. With the number of new filings expected to go up after the moratorium ends, Connecticut will be facing an eviction crisis which will be tracked in real time.
What we are hearing from our clients:
- Tenants who lost their jobs in 2020 may not qualify for the TRHAP program because they earned too much in 2019
- Many tenants hospitalized with COVID-19 fear being unable to return home when released from the hospital because they have been unable to pay the rent
- The TRHAP program does not have a TTY line making it difficult for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to apply for benefits.
- Tenants continue to seek assistance on how to pay their rent when they have lost their income due to COVID-19
- Tenants are being threatened with termination of their lease in response to extended eviction moratorium
- Landlords are raising rents in response to housing shortage cause by inflow of new residents into Connecticut
- Landlords are harassing tenants for rent
- Tenants are being denied housing based on how many children they have
- Tenants using housing subsidies to pay their rent continue to face source of income discrimination
- TONIGHT: Tune into the Center’s Facebook page, at 6:30 pm, to learn about access to rental relief with Representative Anthony Nolan.
- Public Official Outreach: 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 housing resource workshops via Zoom with social service agencies, direct service providers, and invested stakeholders. If your agency would find a short resource webinar or fair housing training helpful during this crisis please contact Shaznene Hussain, the Center’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, at Shussain@ctfairhousing.org
Resources for tenants and homeowners:
- Click here to understand current tenant rent relief options in Spanish and English.
- Click here to find more details in our tenant FAQ.
- Click here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
- Click here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Our guidance is now available in 11 languages.)
- Need to have your subsidized rent recalculated due to income loss? The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
- To sign up for our weekly update fill out the form
More COVID-19 resources can be found on our website here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG, CLICK HERE.
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