UniteCT Is Here to Help Low-Income Connecticuters
With the COVID-19 moratorium on rental evictions ending soon, Governor Ned Lamont, members of Connecticut's Congressional delegation, and Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno have announced the launch of UniteCT. This new program is funded through the Department of Housing (HUD) as a means to provide rental and electrical utility assistance to low-income Connecticuter’s affected by the pandemic. Low-income workers are disproportionately impacted by the economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus. Individuals who are hit hardest are often in service industries and many businesses deemed non-essential. Of Connecticut’s 1,378,091 households, 146,552 (~11%) earned below the Federal Poverty Level in 2018.
UniteCT Program Assistance
Detailed in the program’s guidelines, UniteCT may provide up to $10,000 in rental assistance and up to $1,500 in electrical utility assistance payments directly to landlords and utility companies for approved tenants. The program will financially support households who earn up to 80% of the HUD Area Median Income. Area Median Income (AMI) is the midpoint of a region’s income distribution, meaning that half of households earn more than the median, and half earn less than the median. A household’s income is calculated by gross income, which is the total income before taxes and other payroll deductions.
"UniteCT provides Connecticut tenants and landlords a much-needed fresh start and further assistance so our families can get back on their feet without worrying about the roof over their heads," Governor Lamont said in a statement this March. "The pandemic exacerbated a national housing affordability crisis, especially for families of color who are more likely to rent their homes and more likely to have missed payments through no fault of their own."
- UniteCT will provide a variety of assistance for residents affected by the pandemic, including:
- Rehousing people exiting homelessness or incarceration
- Providing temporary, short-term rental assistance
- Increasing the availability of mortgage relief to homeowners
- Supporting renters excluded from federal assistance because of their (or their loved ones') immigration status
- Providing homeowners additional time to file property taxes
- Working with local financial institutions to provide mortgage forbearance
UniteCT is funded by Connecticut's $235 million portion of the $25 billion Congress appropriated for emergency rental and utility assistance in December's stimulus package. Congress recently appropriated an additional $21.55 billion for rental and utility assistance, $10 billion for homeowner assistance, $4.5 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and $500 million to assist low-income households that pay a high proportion of their income for drinking water and wastewater services as part of the American Rescue Plan.
Connecticut’s Affordable Housing Crisis
There are only three states where more than half of the households could afford to buy a median-priced home, and Connecticut did not make the list. Connecticut is the second most expensive state to purchase a median-priced home with only 21% of households being able to afford the cost. It’s also one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, with the average home price increasing 13% in the last year. With the onset of the pandemic, Connecticut homes have become even less affordable as home prices have skyrocketed.
How You Can Help Your Fellow Connecticuters
Outside of federal assistance for low-income renters, there is also aid available for Connecticut homeowners. For homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage or facing foreclosure, there are resources available through the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can lend a helping hand by supplying struggling homeowners with information on aid they can receive from both the state and federal programs.
For additional information about UniteCT, head to the State Department of Housing's website.
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