Housing interest groups consisting of community organizations, judicial and legal systems representatives, administrative agencies, and other organizations in the proposed area of service attest to their support for the Rental Housing Mediation Program (RHMP), formerly the Rental Housing Mediation Task Force (RHMTF) and their willingness to make referrals when appropriate. The following represents a synopsis of some of the responses received:
"...a goodly portion of routine Small Claims calendars consists of Landlord-Tenant disputes. Many of these can and should be settled outside the court. That is the primary purpose of the RHMTF."
Commissioner Talmage: "RHMTF provides critical services to the community by assisting countless landlords and tenants in resolving their legal disputes without resort to litigation. They benefit the court directly by helping to keep our caseload down."
"Legal Aid refers individuals with landlord/tenant problems to the RHMTF on a daily basis. We find that many such disputes can be resolved through mediation rather than through litigation. The result is a substantial saving to the taxpayers, to property owners, and a relief to the crowded court calendar."
Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County
Free civil legal services are available to low-income families and senior citizens in the following priority areas: family law as related to domestic violence, landlord/tenant law, public benefits (CalWORKs, GR, SSI, MediCal. Services include Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinics, plus free community legal education presentations to the general public. Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) utilizes volunteer attorneys to provide pro bono services.
"I have on numerous occasions recommended the Task force as an alternative to filing in Small Claims Court and found it to be tremendously successful in assisting in the reduction of court cases."
County Counsel/Small Claims Advisor
"The benefits of your service extend beyond the resolution of the disputes you mediate.. We are sure that your program has kept many disputes from ending up in an already overloaded court system."
Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara
"We have given our full support and cooperation to a program which has proved to be invaluable in establishing a better line of communication between residents and owners of rental housing. We continue to encourage our membership to fully cooperate with the mediation formula to resolve any problems which might arise."
Santa Barbara Rental Property Association
"I am confident that a number of problems involving our programs for disabled and elderly clients have been successfully resolved through the intervention of the RHMTF...It has provided and will hopefully continue to provide a helpful service to the often vulnerable population we serve."
County of Santa Barbara California Department of Social Services