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Hartford city leaders approve $1 million in emergency funding to help struggling renters

Victor and Amilbia and their five children were evicted from their home after falling behind on rent during the pandemic. They have been staying at a hotel together with help from a local shelter.
Tony Spinelli
Connecticut Public
Victor and Amilbia and their five children were evicted from their home after falling behind on rent during the pandemic. They have been staying at a hotel together with help from a local shelter.

Hartford’s City Council has approved $1 million for a Renter’s Emergency Fund to help Hartford residents avoid eviction and secure better housing.

The city council approved $1 million for the renter’s emergency fund Thursday evening as part of the 2023-24 fiscal year budget.

The fund will be included in the budget to help residents pay for “one-time, up-front payments required to obtain rental housing. The payments may be used toward security deposits, first and last months' rent payments,” among other costs, according to the resolution.

Council member Josh Michtom, a member of the Working Families Party who advocated for the fund, said it’ll not only help some residents avoid eviction and homelessness, but help others afford better-maintained housing options.

“If people have conditions, cases where they're trying to get their landlord to fix something or any kind of rent dispute short of eviction, they also will qualify,” Michtom said.

“It’s not just to stop evictions with this money, but also to help people move into better housing. Because that's a big obstacle that folks face," he said. "They're paying rent and they can afford rent, but they can't afford $4,500 to pay first, last, and security deposit for a new apartment.”

While the funding was just approved and the program is in the early planning stages, the city intends the program to be a grant, and not require residents to pay back any of the money received.

A third-party organization, that has yet to be selected, will be in charge of administering the funds. One of the city’s housing advocacy groups or organizations dedicated to rehousing residents will likely take on the task.

“I don't want to saddle people with future debt of any kind by using this program,” Michtom said. “The idea is that housing is too expensive and poor people in Hartford simply can't get the housing they need. We want to help them, not just kick the can down the road for a crisis in the future.”

The program will be available for Hartford residents in the coming months.

City council members initially pushed for the fund last year, using $500,000 in police department funding, but the move was voted down due to concerns of defunding the police.

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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