Major push to reach struggling homeowners
Two federal agencies have teamed up with the Ad Council to launch the third and final phase of the Foreclosure Prevention Assistance Public Service Advertising (PSA) campaign. Both the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will promote the Making Home Affordable Program for homeowners who face foreclosure.
Data shows that nearly 1-in-14 U.S. homeowners has fallen behind on his or her mortgage payments. The new phase of the campaign seeks to identify with those homeowners and raise awareness of free government resources designed to help avoid foreclosure. As announced earlier this year, the Making Home Affordable program has been extended through December 2013 and the eligibility criteria have been broadened. Now, homeowners with rental properties and additional homeowners facing a negative change in their finances may be eligible for assistance.
“While communities across the country are beginning to recover from an unprecedented housing crisis, too many families are still struggling with their mortgage payments and are unsure of where to turn for help,” said Treasury Undersecretary for Domestic Finance Mary Miller. “Millions of homeowners have gotten help to avoid foreclosure since 2009. We want to make sure struggling homeowners know today that there are free government resources available to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.”
The PSAs, which are available in English and Spanish, direct homeowners to call 888-995-HOPE (4673) for free access to HUD-approved housing experts who are available to speak one-on-one about solutions based on each family’s individual circumstances, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, the campaign drives homeowners to the website, MakingHomeAffordable.gov, which hosts robust online resources where homeowners can learn how to address their mortgage concerns.
David Selby, president and managing partner of Schafer Condon Carter, said: “At its core, the campaign attempts to capture the inertia and intense mental paralysis homeowners feel when faced with the prospect of losing their homes. Our hope is that this advertising will speak directly and powerfully to those most in need of help and cause them to take immediate action." His firm is creating the campaign pro bono.
Per the Ad Council model, all PSAs will be aired and run in time and space donated by media organizations. Since the campaign was launched in 2010, media outlets have donated $68.7 million in air time and space. The new ads are being distributed ahead of the month of January — a time when historically many families struggle with their bills and are at increased risk of foreclosure.
The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization that marshals volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Over the past 70 years, it has produced thousands of PSA campaigns addressing a variety of social issues.
Menards cancels store, blames Obama
Home improvement retailer Menards has decided not to open a store in O’Fallon, Mo., because of President Barack Obama’s economic policies, according to a company spokesman interviewed on KMOV, a Missouri television station.
Menards, based in Eau Claire, Wis., had planned to open several stores in the St. Louis market over the next six months.
"We are on schedule to open our new stores in O’Fallon, Ill., and St. Peters, Mo., this spring 2013," a Menards spokesman was quoted as saying. "For O’Fallon, Mo., I’m very sorry, but we are a family-owned business and with the Obama administration scaring the dickens out of all small businesses in the USA at present, we have decided not to risk expansion until things are more settled. Thank you for your patience and understanding."
EPA, CPSC team up on nanomaterials
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have announced a research collaboration effort to assess any potential impacts of nanomaterials on people’s health and the environment. Nanomaterials are very small particles that are about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair appear in many household products ranging from clothing to building materials.
“Nanotechnology and nanomaterials used in the development of these products improve our everyday lives, but it is important that we understand how humans are exposed to nanomaterials and to assess the risks they may pose to people’s health and the environment,” said Tina Bahadori, national program director for EPA’s Chemical Safety for Sustainability Research. “This innovative research greatly improves what is known about nanomaterials and will inform the future design of more sustainable, effective nanomaterials.”
Treye Thomas, program manager for the CPSC Nanotechnology program, said: “These tiny nanomaterials are widely used in products ranging from clothing to sunscreen, but the need for additional research and knowledge on how they affect consumers is great. The CPSC staff is working diligently to meet the challenges involved in regulating this emerging technology, and is pleased to be collaborating with staff at EPA to develop test methods and exposure data to adequately address health and safety concerns.”
EPA’s collaborative research with CSPC, which will coordinate with 25 other U.S. agencies, will focus on a number of nanotechnology issues, including protocol development to assess the potential release of nanomaterials from consumer products, credible rules for consumer product testing to evaluate exposure, and determination of the potential public health impacts of nanomaterial used in consumer products.