ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
April 28, 2020
Important Deadlines: Tenants who know they cannot pay May rent must notify their landlord in writing by May 10, 2020 that they can’t pay rent due to full or partial unemployment, or significant loss in revenue or increase in expenses due to the pandemic to get a 60-day extension to pay the rent.
Connecticut’s legal services offices will hold a briefing on COVID-19 related housing issues on April 29, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. Send questions in advance to email@example.com and click here to register for the briefing.
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. (Recently added Tagalog and Khmer translations to our guidance 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 daily update fill out the form
Fair housing issues and COVID-19:
- April is Fair Housing Month! The federal Fair Housing Act was passed on April 11, 1968 and was designed to stop individual acts of discrimination as well as to tasking federal, state, and local governments with promoting integration. If you think you have been the victim of housing discrimination, call the Center at (888)247-440 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A landlord is not allowed to charge an extra month’s security deposit because you are paying with a voucher or because you are paying rent with a RAP or Section 8 voucher. If you suspect you are being treated differently because you have a security deposit voucher or a voucher to pay the rent, call the Center at (888)247-4401 or by email at email@example.com. Read more about source of income discrimination by clicking here for information in both Spanish and English.
What happened on April 27, 2020:
- Tenants cannot pay rent: As May 1 approaches, more tenants are reporting they will be unable to pay the rent. Even those tenants receiving stimulus money and unemployment benefits report that they must use that money to buy food for their families. To read more about the growing rent crisis, click here and here and here.
- Rental assistance voucher administrator changes policies: D’Amelia has changed its policies regarding its administration of the State’s housing choice voucher administrator to ensure that tenants are able to stay in their homes or lease up using their vouchers (also known as Section 8) or RAP certificates. Those changes include:
- YEARLY ANNUAL INSPECTIONS: ALL annual inspections for both RAP and Section 8 participants are postponed.
- INTIAL INSPECTIONS: Initial inspections and Other Change of Unit inspections will be completed if the unit is unoccupied. This ensures that individuals who are homeless will continue to be able to access housing.
- PREVIOUSLY FAILED INSPECTIONS: If a unit has previously failed an inspection (Reinspections/Abatements), inspectors will NOT go back out to the unit. J. D’Amelia will accept documentation from the landlord and tenant that the work has been completed.
- ANNUAL RECERTIFICATIONS, INTERIMS, MOVES: The JDA Waterbury and New Haven offices are closed to the public, as are most of the other 7 offices. Staff are getting annual recertifications, interims, and moves electronically. D’Amelia is accepting documents via fax, email, or US mail, and communicating by telephone.
- TERMINATIONS: Proposed terminations and hearings are placed on HOLD for at least 60 days.
- EXTENSIONS: Extensions on Section 8 Vouchers and RAP Certificates are extended at least 60 days without notification from the applicant.
- BRIEFINGS: J. D’Amelia staff are conducting briefings via skype, facetime or telephone. D’Amelia staff will email the caseworkers and/or applicants a briefing packet and then work with the caseworker and client to review the materials.
- INCOME DECREASES: If a RAP or Section 8 participants has a decrease in income an interim adjustment should be completed immediately. D’Amelia is waiving the “out of work for at least 30 days” and the “letter notification from employer” as well. For example, if a tenant cannot get a letter that their job has shut down, the tenant can self-verify. J. D’Amelia staff will document the COVID-19 related reason for the use of self-verification.
- REPAYMENTS: J. D’Amelia is waiving current repayment invoice payments for 90 days.
- IDENTIFICATION: Whenever possible, the applicant should provide copies of photo identification, birth certification, and verification of social security. D’Amelia and the Department of Housing are aware that due to the closure of Dept. of Motor Vehicle offices, obtaining photo identification is a challenge. If client does not have photo identification, then a copy of birth certificate and social security number is acceptable.
- District of Connecticut federal courts to remain closed through June 15: Any in person hearing scheduled between now and June 15 has been continued until further order of the Court. The District of Connecticut courthouses remain open for business. Court staff not physically present at the courthouse are equipped to work remotely and will work normal hours during each business day. Staff in the Clerk’s Office are available by telephone, mail will be received, and paper filings can be made at the entrance to each courthouse.
- Borrowers in forbearance have time to pay missed payments: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each issued statements that borrowers are not required to repay the payments missed during a forbearance all at once when the forbearance period ends. For more information, click here.
- Mortgages in forbearance continue to grow: The number of mortgages in forbearance increased from 5.5% on April 16 to 6.4% on April 24. This is compared to only .25% of all loans in forbearance as of March 2, 2020. This has resulted in $754 billion in unpaid principal and interest. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac report that 5.6% of their loans are in forbearance while Ginnie Mae reports that 8.9% of all FHA/VA loans are in forbearance. For more information, click here.
- Changes to procedures for
- Outreach: 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
Still needed to ensure housing stability:
- Help for tenants who cannot pay their rent.
- Payments to landlords to allow them to maintain their buildings and continue to provide housing.
- Bar on mortgage companies filing foreclosure complaints. More than 625 have been filed since the Governor declared a public health and civil preparedness emergency, including several that are banned by the agreement banks and credit unions struck with the Governor and the Department of Banking.
More external 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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