At the height of the pandemic, Franklin Colon said he lost his job because he had to stay home with his small children.
The single father of three started to apply for new jobs but had no luck. Afraid he and his children would be out on the streets, he reached out to Mediate Milwaukee for help.
“The mediators saved my life,” he said. “They walked me through the entire process from communicating with my landlord to applying for and getting rental assistance.”
That’s the premise of what Mediate Milwaukee does for its clients.
Mediate Milwaukee, 1915 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, is a nonprofit that provides free mediation services for tenants and landlords.
“The primary reason people reach out is because they are at risk of being evicted. But sometimes people reach out because they are having a dispute with their landlord or tenant and can’t communicate,” said Joanne Lipo Zovic, one of the organization’s mediators. “We work with everyone but prioritize those who are at risk of losing housing.”
The organization does this by bringing parties together.
“Mediation is a neutral safe space,” said Dean Fiorentino, a landlord. “They help us find a common ground and get a mutual understanding.”
Fiorentino said communication can be one of the biggest challenges he faces when working with tenants.
“Mediators are able to explain what I may be trying to explain to tenants without the emotions,” he said. “Honestly, I can say the exact same thing as mediators, but tenants respond better to it when it’s them.”
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