The City of Mountain View is in need of more mediators to help resolve disputes among city residents and merchants, particularly as the rise in rental prices causes more disagreements between working families and landlords.
The city outsources mediation services to non-profit Project Sentinel, which currently has only 17 of the 24 mediators needed in Mountain View. The project is in special need of bilingual mediators.
“Because of the diversity culturally and socioeconomically in this area, many residents are more comfortable speaking in a different tongue,” said Sandra DeLateur, Director of Dispute Resolution services at Project Sentinel.
Languages in highest demand include Mandarin, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Hindi. Project Sentinel says they need people committed to not just interpreting words but understanding feelings and sentiments.
Eligible mediators must complete a 40-hour basic mediation course about the tenants of communication, observe mediations and train with an experienced mediator. Optional advances mediation courses are available as well.
Project Sentinel says most mediation sessions address issues between landlords and tenants, merchants and customers, roommates, and parking and pet disputes between neighbors.
Mediators say there has been a noticeable increase in disputes between landlords and residents as rents continue to rise in the area.
“Because of the housing crisis most people can’t just say I’m having issues with my landlord, I’ll just move,” said DeLateur, who has been a mediator for three years. “To find a replacement unit is difficult.”
In those situations, mediators educate participants on basic civic codes and help both parties find mutual ground for free.
“I like the idea of people being able to resolve disputes on their own without the courts,” said DeLateur.
City mediators volunteer an average of three times a year based on each person’s schedule and availability. Mediators are volunteers with no financial compensation.
The next mediation training starts May 14 and will continue over three weekends.
For more information visit the City of Mountain View website.