This week on “Steady Habits,” a look at how Connecticut’s Housing Commissioner and housing advocates are approaching the rental crisis caused by Covid-19.
Affordable housing is already out of reach for many residents. But the Covid-19 shutdown has made that problem much worse. Despite an eviction moratorium that’s been extended to the end of August, housing advocates are worried that thousands will be forced out of their homes because they can’t afford to pay their current rent or the back rent they owe.
And that’s just one deadline looming. The other is the end of this month, when the federal unemployment insurance that’s paying people who’ve lost their jobs an extra $600 per week goes away.
Federal lawmakers are working on an extension of those benefits – but it’s likely that the next round won’t be so generous. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is among those who was calling for those benefits to end, saying it “discourages work,” by paying people more to be unemployed than their jobs were paying them. Last week, Lamont walked that opposition back a bit, saying he was talking about the “specific amount.”
But his Housing Commissioner, Seila Mosquero-Bruno sees how that insurance has helped people. She tells me that we as a state, “sometimes don’t appreciate” how hard it is for people, especially working minimum wage jobs, to make their rent during a crisis.
Her department rolled out a rental relief program last week that requires tenants to apply for assistance that will ultimately go to their landlords. Housing advocates say that’s putting too much strain on already stressed tenants – and that the amount of money Connecticut is allocating, $10 million dollars, only about $4000 per household, is far short of what’s needed.
In this episode, we talk to the Housing Commissioner, and with Ashley Blount of the Cancel Rent Coalition.