Connecticut’s big city mayors call for help for renters out of work during pandemic

Connecticut’s big city mayors call for help for renters out of work during pandemic

By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Gregory Hladky, CT Mirror, April 8, 2020. Available Here. 

Connecticut’s big city mayors are calling on Gov. Ned Lamont and legislative leaders to help their constituents who are struggling to pay rent while out of work during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many working people across Connecticut can’t afford to miss even a few days of work,” the mayors from Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Middletown, Norwalk and Stamford wrote state to lawmakers Tuesday. “Our communities are likely to be disproportionately affected by the economic impact of coronavirus and our response to coronavirus, as many of our residents work non-salaried, hourly jobs to pay their bills. We need to make sure those families don’t lose their housing.”

The move comes a week after the Democratic governor announced that his administration had arranged for struggling homeowners to receive a 90-day suspension for paying their mortgage, but offered no assistance for those who rent.

Mortgage relief disproportionately benefits residents in Connecticut’s more affluent communities. For example, in Fairfield, 83% of the residents owned their homes, compared to 24% in Hartford. Renters’ income is typically less than half of homeowners.

In their letter, the coalition of mayors point out that the governor has the authority to override state laws to help renters during a public health emergency, and ask legislative leaders to step in and adopt robust housing protections.

Those protections include giving renters 90 days after the public health emergency ends to pay the missed rent, as long as half of any amount owed is paid back within the first 30 days of when the emergency ends. The mayors also want the state to give tenants who make partial payment of back rent within 30 days after the emergency ends another 60 days to catch up on their rent and keep their housing.

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