Homeless prevention:
The Primary Solution
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Part I: Intervention Programs

 

B. LANDLORD/TENANT ADVOCACY MEDIATION AND EDUCATION

Education Campaign around Landlord-Tenant Resources & Law In 1990 the San Mateo County Sheriffs Department estimated it handled between 35 and 40 evictions per week, or more than 2,000 per year. In response to this, the Eviction Prevention Task Force was formed in 1991 to provide education, training, and collaborative opportunities among landlords, property managers, and service providers in San Mateo County. Comprised of the Tri-County Apartment Association (the largest association of landlords in the county), and community based organizations providing services related to the housing, landlord/tenant, and mediation issues.

The Task Force provides two workshops per year for landlords and service providers. The workshops focus on particular rental housing topics, and continually emphasize the importance of healthy landlord/tenant relationships and early intervention toward the prevention of evictions. It also presents information to landlords on services which, when used early, prevent evictions.

These workshops are being developed and presented in the "spare time" of staff from the participating organizations. Continued and increased support from the Human Services Agency and other sources is needed to assure ongoing educational efforts to an ever increasing audience.

 

Recommendations for Education Campaign around Landlord-Tenant Resources and Law

 

Recommendation IB-l On-going staff training should be conducted in eviction law, accessing funds, conflict resolution strategies and resources. These trainings should be sponsored by the Eviction Prevention Task Force and the Community Information Program.

Recommendation IB-2 One well-coordinated and well advertised education campaign, where mediation and advocate program areas are defined by geographical location, special needs, expertise. Should be properly funded and well advertised. Strategic distribution points include libraries, schools, district offices, court house where eviction is filed. Eviction Prevention Workshops for landlords should continue in county. Advertisements should be taken out in local papers in "Apartment Rental" section. Mailer should be sent out to those receiving rental tax credit and those paying property taxes. Stuffer could be included with mailed refunds. Resources advertised should include hotline, landlord tenant mediation services, Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, Rental Assistance resources. The program should focus on landlords of/and renters in San Mateo County.

 

Who is responsible for Implementation? All mediation and advocacy agencies in county including La Raza Central Legal, Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, City of Menlo Park Conflict Resolution, Operation Sentinel, County Mediation Program, and also the Apartment Industry Foundation and Tri-County Apartment Association. The idea behind this is to encourage landlords to be involved in solutions in conjunction with non profits.

 

Where Will The Funding Come From? Pro-bono assistance should be sought from the media consortiums and Ad Council. Information could be distributed through Chamber of Commerce, monthly meetings of city Mayors and other appropriate places.

 

Mediation/Advocacy: There is a need for mediation and advocacy services which will assist people to remain in their housing. The San Mateo County Human Services Agency division of Housing has a Mediation program which provides professionally trained volunteer mediators for many types of conflicts including consumer disputes, small claims cases and neighborhood problems. Mediation and Advocacy services should continue serving current population, but additional funding should be targeted towards at-risk homeless population.

 

Recommendations for Mediation/ Advocacy

 

Recommendation IB-3 One well-coordinated conflict resolution system, where program areas are defined by geographical location, special needs, expertise, including whether each service is strictly impartial conflict resolution, or if service advocates on behalf of the tenant. Should be properly funded and well advertised.

Recommendation IB-4 In order to attract landlords, advocacy services must establish links with rental assistance, which allows advocate to access funds.

Recommendation IB-5 Mediation agencies such as Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, which is strictly impartial, should inform tenants of rental assistance availability and of need to secure resources before meeting with landlord when differences include non payment of rent.

 

Who is responsible for Implementation? All mediation and advocacy agencies in county including La Raza Central Legal, Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, County and City Mediation Program, and also the Apartment Industry Foundation and Tri-County Apartment Association.

 

Where Will The Funding Come From? City Funding, Special Events, Foundation Funding targeted at homeless prevention.

 

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