rental assistance

State Urged To Distribute Rental Assistance At Faster Pace

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Connecticut's eviction moratorium ended last month but in order to evict a tenant who hasn’t paid rent, landlords must prove they’ve applied for federal funds to pay back rent.

“I don’t think they’re moving quickly enough and I don’t think they’re streamlining the application process,” Erin Kemple, executive director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, said.

Kemple said more needs to be done.

“It has not increased enough to prevent a massive number of people becoming homeless,” Kemple said.

Connecticut has received $400 million in federal funds to help avoid evictions. However, only $37 million or 9% has gone out the door.

“It is absolutely not enough,” Kemple said.

John Souza, head of the Connecticut coalition of property owners, agrees. 

“I know there’s many landlords with four or five months lag from the time they first apply to when they get any money,” Souza said.

Kemple said the state is aiming to get the money out within 14 days, but that has not been the case.

She fears what will happen next. 

“89,000 people, tenants in Connecticut, said that they did not anticipate being able to pay August rent and were not caught up on all the rent that was owed,” Kemple said.

Only about 4,800 people have had their applications for rental assistance approved. In order to get approval, a tenant must fill out an application and have an email address.

“Many tenants are not internet savvy, many are not internet literate,” Souza said.

Souza said many tenants apply for the program and stop paying the landlord because they figure they will get help. However, not everyone gets approved.

“It’s just one more hurdle for small landlords to have to deal with when they’ve been waiting forever and ever,” Souza said.

Kemple and Souza believe the process to receive federal funds should be simpler.

“We had somebody apply March 31 and this morning when I came in, we finally got the funds. That’s almost exactly four months,” Souza said.

Dawn Parker, who is the head of Unite CT, which is managing the funds for the Department of Housing, said they are funding about 700 applications per week.

“From the fully submitted application, our goal is under 15 days to have somebody funded,” Parker said.

“Right now, 24 days is our average turn around so we do want to decrease that,” she said.

Parker said they are going as fast as they can. She said all the resources and the application are available online. She's encouraging more people to apply.

“There are people who worked and maybe had a second job where they were able to work overtime and then COVID hit and their second job went away,” Parker said. 

She said these people, even if it happened last year, may still qualify for rental assistance.

“They got derailed from this pandemic. They probably just need the help,” she added.

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