By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont recently announced that he is doubling funding for the rental assistance program for Connecticut residents impacted by COVID-19 from $10 million to $20 million.
The program, which is funded by the Coronavirus Relief Fund that is managed by the Office of Policy and Management, provides payments to landlords on behalf of approved tenant applicants.
The program is administered by the Connecticut Department of Housing in partnership with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) and 11 housing counseling agencies across the state.
The additional $10 million brings the total amount of state funding for renters, homeowners, and residential landlords impacted by COVID-19 to $43.3 million.
Lamont said that homeowners are a major priority as the state is battling the novel Coronavirus.
“Supporting renters and landlords during this public health crisis is critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19,” Lamont said. “I’m trying to get people back to work and children back to school, and having a home you can call your own is a critical foundation for making that happen.”
In addition to the $20 million rental assistance program, the funding provides mortgage relief to homeowners. It also supports renters who were facing eviction before the pandemic.
The funding also helps to rehouse people exiting homelessness or incarceration and supports renters excluded from federal assistance because of their immigration status.
Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said that homeowners should get the support they so deserve during these pressing times.
“This increase reflects Governor Lamont’s commitment to help those families that have been affected by the pandemic and are in need of financial assistance to pay their rents,” Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said. “I am thrilled with the partnership we have forged with the Wells Fargo Foundation to provide financial assistance to the housing counseling agencies.”
Eileen Fitzgerald, head of housing affordability philanthropy for Wells Fargo, said that residents are dealing with stress and anxiety during COVID-19.
“During this unprecedented time, far too many people are struggling financially and facing housing instability in Connecticut,” Fitzgerald said. “This grant for the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority will expand access to relief programs by engaging local housing counseling agencies to work toward keeping more Connecticut residents housed who are facing financial challenges as a result of COVID-19.”
Connecticut’s largest cities also received $10 million under the CARES Act Emergency Solution Grants program to prevent homelessness.
Lamont, with connection to the extra funding, announced that he will soon sign an executive order for the residential eviction moratorium protecting tenants who were currently on their rent at the beginning of the pandemic that will extend to Oct. 1.
The extension will bring this important measure to protect public health in line with neighboring states.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently extended protections for tenants in homes with mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Authority through the end of the year.