Mediation as a tool for eviction prevention: conflict intervention service

Pictured, left to right: Rachelle (on-site service provider), Janet (resident), Simon (mediator), and Laura (director of on-site services).
Pictured, left to right: Rachelle (on-site service provider), Janet (resident), Simon (mediator), Laura (director of on-site services).

Since 2016, MOHCD has partnered with the Bar Association of San Francisco to offer the Conflict Intervention Service (CIS), an on-demand continuum of alternative dispute resolution services available to tenants, landlords, property managers, and on-site service providers (in supportive housing) at any stage of a tenant-tenant or tenant-landlord conflict. The focus is on quickly deescalating tensions that can lead to an eviction or other forms of housing instability.

Since its inception, CIS has mediated almost 800 cases and has had a resolution rate of 95%. In many of these cases, vulnerable and low-income residents have avoided eviction and possible homelessness.  

Success story: Janet, a senior with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been living peacefully in supportive housing for more than four years, after almost 30 years of homelessness. When Rachelle (a new on-site service provider) arrived, severe conflict erupted between the two women. Janet faced eviction after shoving Rachelle on two occasions. Two CIS mediators and a social worker engaged both women in a series of individual “small conversations.” A breakthrough occurred when one of the mediators, Simon, discovered a shared love of singing with Janet, a former Calypso singer in Trinidad. They literally sang Janet out of her fear and into an engagement plan between the women. Eviction was avoided and the CIS social worker has been keeping the parties on track.

CIS is designed to stabilize housing through modeling creative approaches and restoring civility to resolve and prevent conflict. This offers stakeholders a non-adversarial, collaborative process, focused on building a more stable tenant-landlord relationship. 

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