Lamont extends moratorium on residential evictions

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont is extending to Aug. 22 the moratorium on residential evictions amid the coronavirus outbreak that was scheduled to expire midnight Tuesday.

The Lamont administration is also dedicating $33 million in state and federal funding for emergency assistance to renters, homeowners and landlords of residential properties.

Lamont issued an executive order on Monday that continued the eviction moratorium that he imposed on April 10 another 52 days to Aug. 22. There is an exception for eviction proceeding for nonpayment of rent due on or before Feb. 29, or evictions for serious nuisance.

In addition, this latest order also extended the opportunity for tenants to apply a portion of any security deposit worth more than one month’s rent toward rental payments due in April, May, June, July or August.

The $33 million funding initiative includes $10 million for a rental assistance program for Connecticut tenants who have been affected by COVID-19, including job and income losses.

Under this program, the Department of Housing will provide direct payments to landlords on behalf of approved tenants. Priority will be given to lower-income households that have been denied unemployment insurance.

There is also $5 million being made available for eviction prevention to help renters who were in the process of eviction before Lamont declared a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak on March 10.

The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority will administer a $10 million program to provide mortgage relief to affected homeowners whose mortgages are not federally insured.

The Department of Housing will also distribute $4 million in rapid rehousing funds to help people pay costs such as security deposits and initial rent to exit homelessness to housing.

The department will oversee a $2.5 million rental assistance program for people who are ineligible for emergency assistance through the federal CARES Act, including undocumented immigrants.

The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness will administer $1.8 million in funding for reentry and rehousing assistance for people exiting incarceration.

The Department of Housing is also encouraging large cities that received $10 million under the CARES Act to prevent homelessness and support homeless populations to allocate some of that funding to provide rent arrearage assistance for low and very low-income families that are struggling to make ends meet.

All housing assistance programs administered through the state and through CHFA will include housing counseling to help renters and homeowners problem solve and develop plans to pay housing costs going forward.

Eight landlords have filed a federal lawsuit against Lamont over his executive order suspending evictions for nonpayment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor issued the order back in April

It first prohibited evictions through June 30, with two 60-day grace periods for April and May rent, and allowed tenants who paid a security deposit of more than a month’s rent to use the excess money toward future rent payments.

The eight landlords involved in the lawsuit allege the order allows their properties to be used by the public without compensation, and violates their constitutional right to private contract, due process of law and equal protection under the law.

Court records indicate the case was referred on June 22 to U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel for a settlement conference. Meanwhile, a hearing has been scheduled for July 22 on a motion from the landlords for a temporary injunction against Lamont.