Dealing with the pandemic and the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is worrisome enough, but the coronavirus has also spurred a number of affiliated concerns and crises, few perhaps as fraught with anxiety as the threat of losing one’s home.
Statistical information helps outline the dilemma: The number of people in search of rental assistance at the Salvation Army Corps on Meriden’s St. Casimir Drive went from a few calls a week before the virus emergency to a dozen to 15 since it arrived. Also in Meriden, the state’s 211 Infoline system from the months of March to June received 633 calls looking for housing information.
People are worried about losing their housing, something fundamental to well being.
Gov. Ned Lamont recently extended a moratorium on evictions, to Aug. 25, and $33 million was added to emergency funding to help both tenants and landlords affected by the pandemic crisis. Of that funding, $10 million is to go to rental assistance, $5 million for eviction prevention and about $10 million to provide mortgage relief to homeowners.
That and other earmarked funding seems significant, but COVID-19 has had a way of dwarfing such commitments. “It’s a good start but the CT Coalition to End Homelessness expects the state will need between $200 million and $400 million,” said Ann Faust, the coalition’s executive director. “We are looking for the federal government to provide rental assistance and assistance to landlords. The need is going to be very significant.”
As we’ve been hearing, we are all in this together. The assistance is needed by renters, homeowners and landlords. “It’s critical that we provide emergency help so that they can stay housed, and to support residential landlords, many of who are mom and pop small businesses themselves,” said Lamont, in announcing the emergency package.
With cases surging across the nation — though fortunately not in Connecticut at this moment — it’s hard to say how much of a difference this extended effort in helping people keep their homes will make. But we can say, at this moment, that it’s a good step.