Hartford and a class of 1,690 families forced to leave condemned homes without receiving financial assistance to relocate to safe housing have reached a tentative $2.75 million settlement.
The city’s corporation counsel’s office, which appealed a judge’s order to pay the families $6.3 million in September 2016, signed off on the proposed settlement Tuesday. The City Council approved it March 12.
The families, who were displaced due to a variety of reasons, such as fires and housing code violations, were supposed to receive financial assistance to relocate under the Connecticut Uniform Relocation Assistance Act from Hartford but never did. The class period covers Jan. 1, 2010, through Sept. 30, 2015.
Hartford Superior Court Judge Glenn A. Woods is expected to sign off on the proposed settlement June 22.
Greater Hartford Legal Aid has represented the class since 2013.
“Each family case is different, but all of the families should have been notified at the time that they qualified under URAA for monetary assistance. That never happened,” said legal aid attorney Cecil Thomas. “They should have been given assistance and reimbursed as required by law.”
Thomas said his office got involved after hearing the residents’ complaints.
“We heard from clients who were displaced and had no recourse,” Thomas said. “We started to hear the same story over and over again. People told us they asked about relocation benefits and they were told there was no such thing or they were told there was no money for that.”
Thomas said the proposed settlement is fair.
“The clients are concerned with a lot of uncertainty with more delays,” he said. “There are a lot of delays in an appeal. A lot of our clients have been displaced since 2010. These are payments that should have gone to them eight years ago. Anything we can do to get some portion of the payment to them is a good outcome.”
Thomas said many of the displaced families “were forced to live in cars for a time and stay in overcrowded situations with family.”
If Woods approves the deal, a claims administrator will have the final decision on how much each family gets. The maximum payment allowed is $4,500 per family, which includes $500 for moving expenses and $4,000 to help pay for permanent housing.
Since Oct. 1, 2015, Thomas said, the city has worked with displaced families and notified them of the URAA. “It’s been a gradual process,” Thomas said. “But the program has improved significantly.”
Hartford Corporation Counsel Howard Rifkin did not respond to a request for comment.