Help is available for Allegheny County’s housing crisis | Pittsburgh City Paper

Help is available for Allegheny County’s housing crisis

As Allegheny County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program comes to a close on March 31st, a housing crisis in our community is looming. We strongly believe that mediation is the best option people can make before going to court since we are looking for the best resolution for both parties. Just Mediation Pittsburgh is a nonprofit organization that originated at the height of the pandemic in 2020 due to an overwhelming need to keep tenants housed and ensure rental payments were coming in for landlords.

JMP mediates landlord-tenant disputes to help landlords reduce unit turnover and keep tenants in their homes. Our mediation is free, confidential, and voluntary for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County tenants and landlords, and our mediators have a 93% success rate once both parties agree to mediate. JMP recruited and trained community members as mediators, facilitating dialogue to help participants construct positive solutions for themselves. This service is totally free and can help both parties by saving time and money and hopefully eliminating the need to go to court entirely. We also provide referrals to other agencies who can help with any needs that are identified during mediation, such as rental assistance and other support services.

JMP acts as a neutral third-party and helps clear up confusion and/or miscommunication by ensuring that both the landlord and tenant receive the same information at the same time and to help set clear guidelines to move forward. Our community mediators do not serve as a judge or lawyer and if an agreement is reached, it is enforceable in court. JMP’s mediation sessions are remote via phone or video sharing platform and we offer a variety of 2-hour time slots to work with your schedule, though most disputes are settled within 1 hour. The process can save weeks and sometimes months of your time compared to starting and finishing the court process.

“It went a lot smoother than expected - I came out with a clear idea of what I owed and what the agreement/outcome of our situation was.” - Tenant Participant

Landlords have already lost money; mediation gives the opportunity for tenants to get access to funds to help alleviate debt through referrals to partnering agencies. The average cost to evict in Allegheny County is $5,000 -which includes lost rental payments, filing and attorney fees, funds lost while the property sits vacant, cost to market the property, and rehabilitation of the unit before a new tenant moves in. Mediation allows both parties the opportunity to come up with an agreement that is enforceable without giving up any legal rights. We work with many landlord partners who have successfully worked through disputes with their tenants and reached a solution that satisfied their responsibilities and needs as landlords.

“As a Property Manager, I was apprehensive of the mediation process, but after completing my first session with Ms. Sharon (a JMP Community Mediator) I was completely impressed with the process and consider it my first approach when handling tenant/landlord disputes. The mediation process is efficient and concise, allowing both sides to
 e heard and resolution found.” - Landlord Participant

While Just Mediation Pittsburgh helps to resolve nonpayment issues, tenants who participate can expect to benefit from mediation for a litany of reasons such as resolving habitability concerns, end of lease terms, and breach of lease disputes in addition to other housing-related issues. Many tenants have difficulty communicating clearly with their landlord, or even getting an audience with them; mediation offers them this opportunity to truly resolve long standing issues. JMP also partners with RentHelpPGH‘s Resource Navigator who can connect tenants with community resources to help meet their needs.

“Mairead (the Resource Navigator) made me feel at peace, going through this process, with giving me knowledge on how the protocol was done. She referred me to others that would be helpful. And she made herself available if needed for follow up.” - Tenant Participant

If you are currently experiencing a housing dispute, or you know someone who could benefit from our services, please reach out to Just Mediation Pittsburgh at or call 412-228-0730 to be connected to a member of our Intake Team.