Housing Mediation Program
The MA Housing Mediation Program is administered by MOPC in partnership with 11 qualified community mediation centers from regions across the state. The Program is funded through an annual state budget appropriation and operated under the sponsorship of the MA Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC). The Program offers free mediation and other conflict resolution services as a homelessness prevention and housing stability tool. It was originally launched in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the Governor’s Eviction Diversion Initiative (EDI), a multi-pronged approach to addressing eviction by bringing together financial assistance, housing counseling, legal aid, tenancy preservation, and community mediation resources. Following the conclusion of the EDI, the Program was continued to help promote housing stabilization due to the state’s ongoing housing crisis. Program services are available to members of the public, as well as disputes referred by public housing sites managed by local housing authorities and by MassHousing sites enrolled in the Tenant Assistance Program.
Under this Program, all MA residents are eligible for free housing-related conflict resolution services for disputes that could ultimately lead to loss of housing or eviction. Disputes eligible for housing mediation can be between a landlord and tenant, or between tenants, and can involve issues such as late rent, non-payment of rent, repairs, living conditions, noise, parking, pets, etc. Services are provided virtually (videoconference or by phone) or in-person, depending on the needs of the individual.
Mediation provides a safe and confidential space for tenants and landlords to meet and reach a mutual agreement with the help of specially trained non-judgmental local community mediators. Mediation can help participants to establish a plan on how to move forward productively in an informed and educated manner before going to court or without the need for a hearing in court. Conflict coaching provides an opportunity for a landlord or tenant to discuss the dispute with a trained conflict coach who can help the individual identify ways to manage the conflict constructively when the other party does not consent to participate in mediation.
Housing Mediators and Coordinators
Services are provided by qualified housing mediators from community mediation centers who also fulfill annual continuing education requirements. Housing mediators under this Program have undergone specialized training and are experienced in housing and summary process eviction cases. Mediators are also qualified to handle court-referred cases under the SJC Uniform Rules on Dispute Resolution. Participating community mediation centers each have at least one dedicated housing mediation coordinator to handle case intake, screening, and scheduling, who are knowledgeable about housing assistance programs and resources. Coordinators can connect individuals to additional resources or organizations to support the mediation process and can access interpreter services via a resource provided through MOPC when needed on a limited basis. Several centers have bilingual housing mediation coordinators who speak Portuguese and/or Spanish.
Evaluation & Research
MOPC and participating community mediation centers engage in a collaborative housing mediation learning community and work together in gathering and analyzing program data for evaluation and research to inform program implementation, development, public accountability, and fundraising. (For more information see MOPC website Research & Evaluation page [link].)
Jarling Ho, Program Manager, Jarling.Ho@umb.edu or (617) 287-4072
Connect with participating community mediation centers:
- Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority: https://bcrha.com
- Collaborative Resolutions Group: www.collaborativeresolutionsgroup.org
- Community Dispute Settlement Center: www.communitydispute.org
- Family Services of Central MA Mediation: https://www.sevenhills.org/programs/mediation
- Greater Brockton Center for Dispute Resolution: https://www.gbcdr.org
- Middlesex Community College Law Center: https://www.middlesex.mass.edu/lawcenter/mediation.aspx
- Mediation Services of North Central MA: https://mediationncm.org
- Metropolitan Mediation Services: https://www.brooklinecenter.org/services/metropolitan-mediation-services/
- Martha's Vineyard Mediation Program: www.mvmediation.org
- MetroWest Mediation Services: www.metrowestmediationservices.org \
- The Resolution Center: www.resolutionnorthshore.org
For more information on the MA network of Community Mediation Centers see the Resolution Massachusetts website: https://www.resolutionma.org. (ink to Housing Mediation Program page on Resolution MA)
For information about other organizations offering support to landlords and tenants on a town-by-town basis see https://hedfuel.azurewebsites.net/