Feb 9, 2015

Strengthening Communities with Evictions Mediation

Center for Conflict Resolution mediates with hundreds of tenants and landlords each year, helping parties to come to practical agreements that meet their needs. The story below describes one of our recent mediations:

Catherine had lost her job and was unable to keep up with rent payments to her landlord, Yolanda. Catherine knew that she needed to move out of her unit, but needed time to plan. She indicated that she spoke with a legal aid attorney and they informed her that she would only have a few weeks to move out of the house. 

Yolanda attended the mediation with her young son. Yolanda explained she needed the rent money in order to pay the mortgage on the house and support her son. She said she was just making it each month and could possibly lose her house. 

Catherine and Yolanda agreed that they had a great relationship in the past. Yolanda indicated that she knew that Catherine had not intended to miss rent payments, but simply lost her job. Because of this, Yolanda said she was willing to forgo the late fees that had been accrued. Catherine acknowledged that she owed the Yolanda the past rent and was grateful that the landlord was willing to forgo the late fees. She was willing to make payments to repay the money she owed the landlord.

The parties reached an agreement that allowed Catherine time in the apartment until she received her next paycheck from her new job, which would allow her to pay moving expenses and to put down a deposit on a new unit. Payments on back rent would begin with Catherine's following paycheck in one month's time. The parties agreed on a realistic monthly payment amount, and that Catherine would make sure the house was presentable for viewings by interested parties.

The parties signed an agreement. 

Nov 26, 2014

A Year of Service to Youth & Communities

A year after partnering with GlobalGiving to raise funds for our juvenile victim-offender work, we have raised nearly $20,000!  These funds give CCR the ability to assist hundreds of young people, their families and their communities find ways to repair harm and build strong relationships.

Since our last report in August, we have assisted 78 additional people through this program. Since the initiation of this project on December 1, 2013, we have helped 294 individuals in Chicago. We are really proud of the impact this program has on our communities, and are working every day to serve more young people involved in the juvenile justice system.

The conversations that take place in mediation are often a turning point for young people and their families. After committing an offense, young people are generally face exclusion from school, church and neighborhood communities and sometimes a criminal record. All of these things disconnect young people  from healthy communities and sources of support. When opportunities for community connection are limited, offenders often return to problematic behavior or gang activity.

The Juvenile Victim-Offender Medaition Program gives an opportunity for young people to share their story and be heard by their families and community members. People impacted by the offense have a chance to talk about how the events impacted them, which can be healing and restorative for them. Everyone involved talks about how to repair the harm created by the offense. Sometimes that comes in the form of an apology; other times, the offender agrees to do something to help the person affected, or do something to help the community where s/he lives. We see first-hand the impact this work has on young people and their families. 

We are really proud of the work we’ve done, and couldn’t have done it without your support.

Thank you!

Aug 26, 2014

Helping Preserve Families and Communities

Since our last report, CCR has continued to serve juveniles, their families and their communities with mediation services. We have served 42 additional people in the last three months, which brings the total number of people served since the beginning of our project (Decebmer, 2013) to 213. 

With your support, CCR offers an opportunity for juveniles, their families and community members to come together after an offense has occurred to talk about what happened, the harm created, and ways to repair the harm to those affected.Sometimes, we are not able to include affected community members, in which case we offier an opportunity for the juvenile and her/his parent to have a conversation. Those conversations have given struggling families a huge opportunity: the chance to talk, learn about each other and set a plan for communicating better in the future. 

Without your help, we would not be able to provide these services in cases like the one described below:


Sam, 15, comes from a struggling family. His mother, Deeana, supports her three children with multiple part-time jobs. She’s not able to spend as much time at home with her son as she’d like. Resources are limited: Sam is responsible for taking care of his other siblings when his mother isn’t home, and his mother Deeana says she’s going to need him to get a part-time job very soon.  

Sam was recently picked up by the police for tagging a CTA train with a group of friends. Sam was with six friends in total; all of them were minors and charged with vandalism.

JoAnn, an employee of the CTA, was present at the mediation, along with Sam and Deeana.

At the beginning of the mediation, Sam’s mother Deeana had a lot to share – she talked about what a good child Sam was, and how he’d done so well in school until last year. She addressed JoAnn repeatedly, apologizing for her son and explaining how hurt she was by the incident. She cried openly and said things like, “I didn’t raise you like this.” Sam stared at the floor for the first 30 minutes of the mediation, sharing nothing but “yeah” or a shrug when the mediator tried to engage him.

JoAnn talked about the expense incurred by the city to remove graffiti from CTA cars. She talked about how many people were arrested and charged with vandalism every year, and the legal costs incurred by the city associated with pursuing those cases. JoAnn explained that she appreciated the chance to have a mediation when a juvenile is involved in a first-time offense.  

Without much interaction from Sam, the mediator chose to hold a private session with him. Sam finally opens up: he talks about his parents divorce three years ago and his father being admitted for psychiatric care at a local hospital. He hasn’t spoken to his father in over two years, and resents his mother for not being able to provide as much financially to the family as his father once did. He talks about how important his friends are to him: they are like his family.

After meeting with Deeana and JoAnn privately, the mediator brought everyone back into the same room. The case resulted in an agreement for Sam to write an essay on the topic of forgiveness and to submit it to JoAnn and Deeana. JoAnn also asks Sam to participate in a community service project facilitated by the CTA to clean graffiti from school buildings. Sam agrees to both of those things. His mother agrees to ensure he is able to attend the dates for the community service. 

It's your support that gives us the opportunity to help families like this one have conversations and build enduring relationships. Thank you for what you do to help CCR and Chicago's families. 

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