PSC's HOMEConnecticut Campaign Writes to Gov. Lamont & State Leaders, Advocating for State Resources to Help Renters
April 16, 2020
Connecticut faces an unprecedented economic and public health challenge as we work to limit the spread of the coronavirus. More than 330,000 unemployment claims were filed in our state in the last month - 150,000 more than all claims filed in 2019.
Nevertheless, rent for Connecticut's 455,000 renter households was due on Wednesday, April 1st. Early statistics show that in the private rental market (unsubsidized) as many as 31% of renters did not pay all or a portion of their rent this month.
All levels of government must work to ensure that people remain safely and stably housed during this critical time. It is in this spirit that the Partnership for Strong Communities has worked to draft a policy response with our partners in the HOMEConnecticut Campaign.
HOMEConnecticut, a statewide campaign dedicated to affordable housing in Connecticut, has written to Governor Ned Lamont and state leaders, asking the state to take five critical actions to preserve housing stability for Connecticut's most vulnerable residents in the weeks and months to come.
Our policy recommendations to the state include:
- We are grateful that the existing suspension of eviction orders has been extended until July 1, 2020. We ask that rental payment late fees and similar charges be prohibited until at least the conclusion of the public health emergency declaration. We also request a 60-day grace period for June rent, like the one Executive Order 7X provides for May.
- The state should create programs to provide relief to renters in a way that will prevent the initiation of eviction proceedings. Based on national and state forecasts, we estimate that $400 million may be needed in rental assistance over the next six months for as many as 230,000 renter households.
- The state should create and fund at a minimum 900 new, permanent state affordable housing vouchers and/or Rental Assistance Program (RAP) certificates to move those with little to no income or access to unemployment compensation into permanent housing during and after the crisis.
- The state should create a substantial rental stabilization fund to provide rent relief to COVID-19 impacted households and stabilize the private rental market.
- The state should provide deferrals on any state-backed mortgages for 120 days following the conclusion of the state public health emergency declaration, and we recommend state advocacy for similar federal deferrals.
- At least $25 million should be added to the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (E-MAP) to protect against a future wave of foreclosures due to the unprecedented levels of newly unemployed workers as a result of COVID-19, with the potential for additional investment as need requires.
- The state should expand funding for legal services for residents facing eviction and foreclosure in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.
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