Disputes involving neighbors often have no formal dispute-resolution mechanism. Community-mediation centers generally focus on this type of neighborhood conflict, with trained volunteers from the local community usually serving as mediators. These organizations often serve populations that cannot afford to utilize the court systems or other private ADR-providers. Many community programs also provide mediation for disputes between landlords and tenants, members of homeowners associations, and businesses and consumers.
Mediation helps the parties to repair relationships, in addition to addressing a particular substantive dispute. Agreements reached in community mediation are generally private, but in some states, such as California, the parties have the option of making their agreement enforceable in court. Many community programs offer their services for free or at most, charge a nominal fee.
The roots of community mediation can be found in community concerns to find better ways to resolve conflicts, and efforts to improve and complement the legal system. Citizens, neighbors, religious leaders and communities became empowered, realizing that they could resolve many complaints and disputes on their own in their own community through mediation.
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