The following letter from Executive Director Matt Blinstrubas is Equality Connecticut’s testimony in support of HB6588: An Act Concerning Rent Stabilization
Dear Representative Luxenberg, Senator Moore, and members of the Housing Committee:
My name is Matthew Blinstrubas. I am the Executive Director of Equality Connecticut, an organization dedicated to advancing the rights, health, history, and culture of Connecticut’s LGBT Community. I am testifying in support of a rent cap and in support of HB 6588, with changes to better protect tenants.
This bill will provide needed protections and security for the many LGBT renters across the state and ensure that they have a safe, affordable place to live.
Housing is a huge issue for the LGBT community. A report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimated that 17% of LGBT people had experienced homelessness in their lifetimes compared to 6% of people who do not identify as LGBT.
Two years ago, the state of Connecticut released an extensive report that surveyed thousands of LGBT people across the state, prepared by the state’s own LGBT Health and Human Services Network.
It showed that across every identity and age group that the number one concern related to housing for LGBT people was affordability.
The Government Accountability Office found that a median rent increase of $100/month was associated with a 9% increase in homelessness.
That number may be even higher for LGBT people who many times do not have the same familial safety net to fall back on.
A strong rent cap of 2.5% or 3% will ensure this increase in homelessness does not happen and will provide some predictability and sustainability for LGBT tenants.
Another important element to this bill that is not currently included but was in other versions is expanding protection from no-cause evictions.
Right now CT law protects those over age 62 and those with disabilities but leaves everyone else out.
That means that a landlord could simply not renew the lease of a tenant without giving them any reason.
An LGBT tenant would never know or be able to prove that their identity was the reason their lease was not renewed because the landlord does not have to give a reason for not renewing the lease.
This is the perfect example of the ease at which a landlord could get around current non-discrimination laws as it would be almost impossible for the tenant to prove discrimination happened.
Ending no-cause evictions for everyone also makes it harder for landlords to discriminate against LGBT tenants and closes loopholes that currently allow for that discrimination to happen.
Looking at the state’s LGBT Needs Assessment you will see over and over again that LGBT people in the state are most looking for safety, stability, and the confidence of knowing systems are not able to discriminate against them.
A strong rent cap and an end to no-cause evictions provide all of those things. It buttresses current non-discrimination legislation and reduces the anxiety and fear of tenants of having a large, unexpected rent increase forced upon them.
CT is a state that prides itself on being welcoming to and supportive of the LGBT community. For decades we have led on issues like non-discrimination, marriage equality, fighting HIV, banning conversion therapy, modernizing parenting laws, and much more.
A transgender person feeling safe and secure in their home, knowing that they can’t be priced out on a whim, is vital to their safety and well-being. A gay young person ostracized from their family struggling to stay housed must have the predictability of stable rent to meet the grave challenges they face. LGBT people should be able to sleep at night knowing there is absolutely no way to evict them because of who they are.
And as we’re seeing, families with transgender children coming to Connecticut, fleeing persecution in hostile states, need a sense of stability as they rebuild their lives and protect themselves.
Thank you for your time and I hope that you will support this bill and will ensure it is strengthened to lower the rent cap to 3% and include protection from no-cause evictions.