This story is part of CT Mirror Explains, an ongoing effort to distill our wide-ranging reporting into a "what you need to know" format and provide practical information to our readers.
UniteCT, Connecticut’s rental assistance program, aims to help people who struggled financially during the pandemic stay in their homes.
Though the initial program stopped taking new applications in February 2022, in January the state launched a UniteCT fund designed to prevent evictions that are already in progress.
Here’s what you need to know about the new UniteCT Eviction Prevention Fund.
What is the UniteCT Eviction Prevention Fund?
The UniteCT Eviction Prevention Fund and rent bank is aimed at preventing evictions that have already been filed in court.
The fund, which was announced in November 2022 and launched in January, will offer up to $5,000 per household to pay rent owed to landlords.
The program is for tenants who already have evictions filed against them. It can cover rent owed back to April 1, 2020, DOH spokesman Aaron Turner said in an email. Checks will go directly to landlords, Department of Housing officials said.
To receive the money, tenants have to enter an agreement with their 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.
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.
How is the program funded?
UniteCT initially launched with about $400 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act, all of which has since been obligated to renters.
In October, UniteCT received an $11 million boost in funding from the federal government. The state combined that money with $1.5 million the legislature set aside for a rent bank program last year to launch the Eviction Prevention Fund.
The housing department plans to spend the money over the next three years, although that may change depending on the number of applications, officials said in January.
Am I eligible for the UniteCT Eviction Prevention Fund?
Tenants are eligible if they earn up to 80% of the area median income and are currently facing eviction.
Renters who already received up to $15,000 or 12 months of rent from UniteCT 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If the eviction case is withdrawn or the court orders that a marshal deliver an execution or remove a tenant from the apartment, that renter is no longer eligible for the program, according to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.
If staying in the same apartment doesn’t work out, up to $3,000 of the money can be used to help with a security deposit and the first month’s rent in a new place, officials said.
How do I apply for the Eviction Prevention Fund?
Tenants can apply by calling 1-844-864-8328, according to a press release sent in January. Applications aren’t available online.
They’ll first be screened for eligibility then complete applications with help from local resource centers.