Connecticut launches fund in effort to prevent evictions

Even those not infected with the coronavirus have suffered negative health effects caused by evictions, lack of food security and unemployment.

Even those not infected with the coronavirus have suffered negative health effects caused by evictions, lack of food security and unemployment.


State officials on Wednesday announced the start of a rental assistance fund that aims to prevent evictions as Connecticut grapples with an ongoing housing crisis that’s grown more acute since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UniteCT Eviction Prevention Fund and rent bank, a combined $12.5 million from federal funds and a state program, will offer up to $5,000 per household to pay rent owed to landlords. Tenants can apply by calling 1-844-864-8328, according to a press release sent Wednesday.

They’ll first be screened for eligibility then complete applications with help from local resource centers.

The Department of Housing program aims to prevent evictions, which can have long-reaching effects on families.

The number of evictions in Connecticut rose after pandemic protections expired.

Last year, landlords filed the highest number of evictions since at least 2017 — the earliest year with available data. They filed 22,749 evictions in 2022, over 2,000 more than 2017, and more than three times as many as 2020, when a moratorium on certain evictions for missed rent was in place.

Each filing can represent several people in a household, and families with children are often at a higher risk of facing eviction. Women and people of color, particularly women of color, also are at a disproportionate risk of eviction.

“In our many efforts to mitigate the growing number of evictions, we are establishing this fund to continue to assist our renters that face financial hardship,” DOH Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said in the press release. “With these resources, we expect to assist individuals and families to remain housed while also providing landlords with some financial relief.”

The program is for tenants who already have evictions filed against them and can cover rent owed back to April 1, 2020, DOH spokesman Aaron Turner said in an email.

Tenants are eligible if they earn up to 80% of the area median income. In order to receive the money, they’ll have to enter an agreement with the landlord to either stay in the unit until back rent is paid or find a plan to move to a new place, according to a program overview document.

Renters who already received up to $15,000 or 12 months of rent from UniteCT, the state’s emergency rental assistance program, are only eligible for up to $3,500 in additional assistance.

If the eviction case is withdrawn or the court orders that a marshal deliver an execution or remove a tenant from the apartment, that renter is no longer eligible for the program, according to the overview document.

People facing eviction who meet the eligibility requirements and don’t have legal representation will have access to mediators at Quinnipiac University’s Center on Dispute Resolution, according to the press release.

After Connecticut spent its initial $400 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act, the state applied for more money.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has been re-allocating rental assistance funds from states such as Arkansas and Alabama that were slower to spend money or states such as Montana and South Dakota with fewer tenants.

Connecticut received an addition $11 million from those re-allocated funds. The state’s Department of Housing combined that money with $1.5 million the state legislature set aside for a rent bank program last session.

“This fund will enable renters who have been struggling with back rent to remain in their homes while providing payments to landlords on their behalf,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in the press release. “I encourage anyone who is in need of assistance to reach out and see if they are eligible.”