School of Law launches Homelessness Mitigation Mediation Program

March 11, 2021

Brendan Holt

A new School of Law mediation program is intended to help address the looming homelessness crisis expected after Connecticut’s eviction moratorium ends April 19.

The School of Law’s Center on Dispute Resolution has launched a Homelessness Mitigation Mediation Program (HMMP). The program is funded by a $135,000 grant from the Connecticut Department of Housing.

Brendan Holt, an adjunct law professor and director of the Mediation Clinic at Quinnipiac, will serve as the program’s executive director.

“The Department of Housing was looking for landlord/tenant mediation expertise in the context of COVID-related homelessness relief,” Holt said. “The goal is to both help tenants maintain their housing stability and landlords gain back some of the funds lost through COVID-related nonpayment of rent to keep them viable and keep their properties running. We want to help these folks come to some potential arrangement that works for both sides while increasing housing stability.

“Mediation humanizes the process,” Holt added. “Sometimes, creative solutions can come up when you bring both sides to the table. It’s a pressing need. We want to level the playing field and make sure everyone is heard.”

The HMMP has already completed some mediations and more have been scheduled.

“The idea also is to make this a helpful academic endeavor for the clinic and the students who are taking it,” Holt said. “The first few are happening, and the goal is to have students either co-mediate or be involved in observing mediations, so it adds to their education and the mediation varieties we hope to expose them to as future lawyers. They are going to work hand-in-hand with some of these cases.”

Eight law students are participating in the program. The HMMP staff also includes associate director Berta Holmes, who for many years was the eviction and foreclosure prevention program manager and housing mediator trainer at Community Mediation Inc. in New Haven and Hamden, and law school alumni Jamie SaintPaul, a mediation clinic fellow. A bilingual mediation client services coordinator will begin later this month.

The six-month, statewide eviction prevention pilot program began Feb. 1.

The HMMP is a joint venture involving the law school’s Center on Dispute Resolution and its Clinical Legal Education Program.

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