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HOMEConnecticut Campaign Urges Gov. Lamont to Expand Housing Protections

29 September 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 29, 2020

Contact: Charlie Shaddox

Partnership for Strong Communities

charlie@pschousing.org

203-435-2149

HOMEConnecticut Campaign Urges Gov. Lamont to Expand Housing Protections

Expanded rental assistance, extended eviction moratorium needed during pandemic

In just two days, Connecticut’s eviction moratorium will end, putting thousands of renters at risk of homelessness during a pandemic. At the same time, the state’s rental assistance program has been unable to meet the needs of Connecticut residents struggling to pay rent. Now, housing advocates are writing to Gov. Ned Lamont, asking for quick and decisive action to keep people housed.

HOMEConnecticut, a statewide campaign for affordable housing in Connecticut, has sent a letter to the Governor’s office, asking for an extension of Connecticut’s eviction moratorium until January 1, an expansion of the eviction moratorium to apply to pre-moratorium evictions, and additional funding for the state’s Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program (T-RHAP).

Over the next year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition projects that over a third of all renters in Connecticut will need a housing subsidy to remain stable in their own homes. While the state has allocated $20 million to T-RHAP, advocates warn that between $400 million and $1 billion is needed to house Connecticut families during COVID-19.

“Connecticut lost tens of thousands of jobs at the start of the pandemic, and many of those jobs haven’t come back,” says Sean Ghio, Policy Director for the Partnership for Strong Communities, the housing policy and advocacy organization that manages the HOMEConnecticut campaign. “People who don’t have a stable job aren’t going to be able to pay rent long-term, so there needs to be a solution to keep them housed while the economy recovers.”

HOMEConnecticut has asked Gov. Lamont to expand the rental stabilization fund to at least $100 million as a starting point. Advocates say that a fully funded rental assistance program “will require resources beyond those available through state funding,” and that federal action on rent relief is needed.

In addition to keeping renters stable, an increase in rent relief funding will help landlords maintain their operating budgets. With many landlords losing rental income, the state risks having properties fall into disrepair, or having landlords be unable to pay for utilities or property taxes.

The letter also recommends Connecticut extend its statewide eviction moratorium through the end of 2020 to match the end of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) moratorium. While the CDC moratorium theoretically covers all Connecticut renters, advocates warn that the process for applying to the moratorium is onerous, and “requires the cooperation and active participation of landlords, some of whom will not participate.” In this way, Connecticut’s moratorium is more effective at accomplishing its primary goal, the prevention of evictions.

Advocates are calling for the state to not only extend its eviction moratorium, but also to expand it. With the recent reopening of Connecticut’s court system, eviction cases that predate Connecticut’s eviction moratorium have begun to move forward. The letter asks that Connecticut’s moratorium be expanded to include the suspension of eviction executions; or, to ensure that nobody with an active eviction case can be evicted while the moratorium is in place.

The HOMEConnecticut campaign, which is staffed and managed by the Partnership for Strong Communities, has been in place since 2004. The campaign is made up of more than 100 diverse stakeholders, including housing advocates, non-profit and business leaders, lenders, housing developers, and homebuilders.