Last year, the Dauphin County Bar Association and MidPenn Legal Services created a mediation program between landlords and tenants to help ensure tenants know where to get assistance and to help landlords get paid. To register for mediation, fill out the form. But here are the basics of the program:
- The effort sought input from various housing advocacy groups and landlord representatives. That has included The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania; pro bono mediators; court administrators; Christian Churches United/HELP Ministries; Fair Housing Council of the Capital Region; Salvation Army; Tri County Community Action Commission; and the Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness.
- The program is offered to Dauphin County landlords and tenants and is free to participants.
- Mediation offers a proactive alternative to the traditional, often expensive, eviction process—an alternative aimed at keeping everyone secure and made as whole as possible.
- Mediation respects both the tenant’s and landlord’s rights and aims to help the parties reach an agreement to resolve their dispute.
- The program looks to identify landlords and tenants who are willing to participate as early in the dispute process as possible. Ideally, that would be prior to a complaint being filed at the MDJ’s office.
- Participation in the Program is voluntary, and both the landlord and the tenant must agree to register for the mediation session.
- The program mostly has been working with Magisterial District Judge Barbara Pianka in Harrisburg to accept referrals from cases filed in her office, but it has since been expanded, Rich said.
- Mediation Clinics are held every Tuesday morning beginning at 9 a.m. However, sessions can be held on other days, depending on the availability of a mediator.
- The free educational and social services are aimed at increasing the tenant’s stability. That coaching might include financial literacy and budgeting tips, as well as information on where to find rental assistance, such as the new round of federal stimulus funding that will be available until September, Rich said. After then, other funding avenues could be identified, he added.
- After an agreement is reached, both parties get a signed copy.
SOURCE: Powerpoint presentation by Cunningham and Rich.
This story is part of a larger feature on a Eviction Mediation Program in Dauphin County.