This report presents findings and recommendations from an evaluation of the Massachusetts Housing Mediation Program (HMP) administered by the MA Office of Public Collaboration (MOPC) at the University of Massachusetts Boston in partnership with 11 Community Mediation Centers (Centers). The program is funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and implemented in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The program was initially part of the Governor’s Eviction Diversion Initiative (EDI), which ended in the latter half of FY2022 and is continuing as an intervention to support housing stability. The evaluation was conducted by MOPC’s research unit comprised of staff and graduate student researchers and does not necessarily represent the views of DHCD. As the statutory state dispute resolution agency, MOPC has been serving as a neutral forum and state-level resource for over 30 years. Its mission is to establish evidence-based public programs and build capacity within public entities for enhanced conflict resolution and intergovernmental and cross-sector collaboration to save costs for the state and its citizens and enable effective problem-solving and civic engagement on major public initiatives.
Funding from the Legislature in FY2022 allowed MOPC to award $690,000 in grants and technical assistance to 11 Centers to sustain their staffing capacity to continue delivering free housing mediation services to their service areas, maintaining, or strengthening referral relationships with partner agencies, and fulfilling other duties for the program. Centers employ one to two staff to serve as liaisons for agency and organizational partners as well as coordinate the delivery of primarily remote mediation services.
In FY2022, the HMP fielded 937 referrals, of which 812 were screened, resulting in 732 cases. Of these cases, 287 were mediated in 325 mediation sessions. Additionally, 276 tenancies and 32 housing subsidies were preserved. Centers served 660 landlords and 733 tenants located in 13 Massachusetts counties. Many of these services were provided remotely, as necessitated by the pandemic, but as communities, courts, and government agencies began to re-open, some services were provided in person.
To assess the impact of the HMP on housing stabilization and homelessness prevention, MOPC deployed a team of staff and graduate student researchers to create data collection and evaluation indicators and metrics vetted by DHCD and the Governor’s Office and produced a HMP evaluation report for FY2021. For FY2022, the MOPC team undertook the following activities to produce this evaluation report for the second year of the HMP operations:
- Launched a HMP mediation participant survey and collected 11 survey responses from tenants, landlords and lawyers and analyzed the quantitative data.
- Launched a HMP Eviction Diversion Initiative (EDI) survey and collected 48 survey responses from EDI partners and analyzed the quantitative data.
- Launched a HMP mediator session survey and a HMP mediator general survey and collected 77 session surveys responses and 1 general survey response and analyzed the quantitative data.
- Mined and analyzed data from HMP case intake forms and mediated agreements from 148 cases.
- Interviewed 23 HMP mediation participants, including tenants, landlords, lawyers for tenants and landlords, and transcribed and analyzed interview data.
- Interviewed 6 HMP case coordinators from Centers and transcribed and analyzed qualitative data.
- Analyzed written feedback from DHCD from a questionnaire sent to DHCD staff.
- Examined quantitative data in HMP weekly case data sheets.
- Drafted evaluation findings, case studies and recommendations tracked to detailed appendices.
This FY2022 HMP evaluation report is organized into the following sections: Executive Summary that can serve as a stand-alone document; Findings, based on an investigation of research on housing mediation, landlord-tenant and summary process mediations; Recommendations, for further increasing impact, utilization and effectiveness of housing mediation and the sustainability of the HMP; Appendices, presenting detailed, fully sourced summaries of the survey data and other relevant material with both qualitative data and analysis and quantitative data and analysis presented using the research questions in the methodology section as a guide.
Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series. //scholarworks.umb.edu/engage
Palihapitiya, madhawa; Sulewski, David; Zeferino, Karina; and Ho, Jarling, "Increasing Housing Stability Through State-Funded Community Mediation Delivered by The Massachusetts Housing Mediation Program (HMP) in FY2022" (2023). Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration Publications. 34.
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