In full transparency, the following is a press release from Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE media.
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has awarded $1.9 million in grant funding for local consumer mediation programs through the Local Consumer Aid Fund (LCAF) to help support, protect, and advocate for consumers across the state on a variety of issues.
“We regularly support these local nonprofits and municipal programs to help ensure consumers across the state have access to mediation and advocacy services,” said AG Healey. “We are proud to partner with these programs that deliver direct services and education to people in their communities.”
The AG’s Office uses settlement funds to finance a statewide network of Local Consumer Programs (LCP) and Face-to-Face Mediation (FTF) programs. These programs assist the AG’s consumer protection mission by delivering the same consumer advocacy services as the AG’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division.
Due to their local knowledge and community involvement, LCP and FTF programs are able to provide effective assistance and services to spread consumer awareness and outreach, resolve consumer disputes, and hold educational events in their own communities. These programs can help consumers with a variety of issues including defective products, auto matters, debt collection, landlord-tenant, mortgages, home improvement contract issues, and utilities.
The LCPs provide information to consumers concerning state and federal consumer protection laws. These organizations also offer voluntary consumer advocacy and assistance services. Each year, LCPs handle thousands of consumer complaints in their own regions.
FTF programs support the resolution of consumer and landlord/tenant disputes. FTF programs receive cases from the trial courts and the AG’s Office. Mediation sessions are held at small claims courts and at FTF program offices. Mediations are confidential and can be conducted at various stages of disputes. Programs can also train, recruit, and supervise volunteer mediators.
The AG’s Office provides oversight and support of the LCP and FTF programs through monitoring and site visits.
In the first three quarters of the fiscal year 2021, altogether, LCP and FTF programs have handled 7,195 cases, returning more than $4.5 million to consumers.
The AG’s Office has provided funding to 18 LCPs and 14 FTF programs for fiscal year 2022.
The LCPs receiving funding this year:
- Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority in Pittsfield
- Boston Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing
- Cambridge Consumer’s Council
- Cape Cod Consumer Assistance Council, Inc. in Hyannis
- Centro de Apoyo Familia in Lawrence
- City of Springfield Mayor’s Office of Consumer Information
- City of Worcester Office of Human Rights and Disabilities
- La Colaborativa in Chelsea
- MASSPIRG Consumer Action Center in Weymouth
- Medford Consumer Advisory Commission
- Middlesex Community College Law Center in Lowell
- Neighborhood of Affordable Housing in East Boston
- New Bedford Department of Community Services
- North Essex Dispute Resolution Center in Newburyport
- Northwestern District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Office in Greenfield
- Revere Consumer Affairs Office
- South Shore Community Action Council in Plymouth
- United Way of Greater Plymouth County in Brockton
The FTF programs receiving funding this year:
- Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority
- Brookline Community Mental Health Center, Inc.
- Cape Cod Dispute Resolution Center, Inc., d/b/a/ Cape Mediation
- City of New Bedford Department of Community Services
- Community Dispute Settlement Center, Inc., Cambridge
- Family Service Organization of Worcester, Inc.
- Greater Brockton Center for Dispute Resolutions, Inc.
- Martha’s Vineyard Mediation Program
- Just-A-Start, Cambridge
- Mediation Services of North Central MA, Inc.
- MetroWest Mediation Services
- Middlesex Community College
- North Essex Dispute Resolution Center
- North Shore Community Mediation Center
For more information about grant opportunities at the Attorney General’s Office, please visit www.mass.gov/ago/grants