New Bedford Mediation Program Seeks to Resolve Disputes [TOWNSQUARE SUNDAY]
The housing crisis that has gripped New Bedford has left many renters facing increased monthly rental payments, evictions, and in some cases, homelessness.
There is, however, some hope for those having legitimate disputes with their landlord or property owner.
The Face to Face Mediation Program is free to residents, and is available to resolve all types of disputes, including those involved with housing.
The program is funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, and is part of the City's Office of Community Services.
Cheryl Duclos serves as a mediator and community advisor in the New Bedford program and stopped by Townsquare Sunday this week to discuss how the program works.
"Mediation is not a difficult process if the parties involved have a voluntary approach to it, and have an open mind to listen to what the other party has to say," she said.
Duclos said there are five mediators working in the New Bedford office, and most are bilingual.
This is a free program and is available to residents in New Bedford and 23 surrounding communities to hopefully resolve all types of disputes, from landlord vs. tenant, neighbor against neighbor, and disagreements with local businesses.
"We believe in mediation before litigation," Duclos said. "What we do is sit and listen as a neutral third party, and help the parties to explore options that they may not see themselves."
Duclos said her office handled 243 housing cases between July of last year and this January.
"We do the best we can to hook folks up with services or mediate with the landlord if they're willing to give the tenant time to find a new place," she said. "We also have a robust list of up-to-date resources."
The Face to Face Mediation program is available by calling City Hall at (508) 984-2663.
The complete interview with Duclos can be heard here:
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