State Launches Ad Campaign To Combat Foreclosures

BALTIMORE (May 08, 2008) – Governor Martin O’Malley, Baltimore City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Department of Labor and Licensing Secretary Thomas Perez, Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Raymond Skinner and other officials on Tuesday kicked off a comprehensive, multimedia advertising campaign to help tackle rising foreclosures in the State and ensure Maryland homeowners are aware of the programs available to provide assistance and relief.

“To protect our middle class families from losing their homes, we must make sure Marylanders know all of the programs and services available to them,” said Governor O’Malley. “I am pleased to announce our latest effort to combat foreclosure. Under the maxim that ‘knowledge is power’ we are launching a multimedia ad campaign to let our fellow citizens know that help is available.”

The Department of Housing and Community and Development, the Department of Labor and Licensing Regulation, and the Department of Transportation collaborated to develop the statewide campaign, which includes the following components:

-- Bus Ads – MTA buses in the Baltimore area and Metro buses in the Washington, DC area currently feature two different designs of the ad with the “Mortgage Late? Don’t Wait!” tag line. Seven-hundred MTA buses and 100 Light Rail cars have the interior ads. Twenty buses have rear exterior signage, otherwise known as “tails” and 10 buses have side exterior signage, known as “kings.” The ads will run for at least 6 months. Metro buses within Prince George’s County include the ads. Sixty buses have outside signage and 500 buses have interior signage.

-- Postcard Mailings – In late March and early April, 680,000 “Mortgage Late? Don’t Wait!” postcards were mailed to identified priority zip codes throughout Maryland that have seen the highest numbers of foreclosures.

-- Radio spots – Thirty and sixty second English spots as well as a Spanish-language spot have been airing on stations through out the Baltimore and Washington, DC metropolitan areas on the following networks: Radio One Stations, CBS Baltimore, CBS D.C. and ClearChannel. Between 20 and 30 radio spots will run each week on these networks’ radio stations from April to June.

-- Print ads – Advertisements are currently running throughout Maryland in major and local newspapers.

-- Outreach – DHCD has been working with specific outreach audiences and groups, such as the Collective Banking Group (CBG) in Prince George’s County and the Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition (BHPC) that have helped deliver the “Mortgage Late? Don’t Wait!” message and distributed consumer information, including the HOPE brochure.

-- Billboard ads – Advertisements similar to the bus ad designs are currently displayed in locations in the Baltimore area and Southern Maryland.

“Whether out of fear, or embarrassment or misunderstanding, too often homeowners ignore the letters in the mail, afraid to face the reality of their circumstances,” said Secretary Thomas Perez. “This ad campaign is really about closing the gap that we see so often in foreclosure cases. We have help to offer, and we need to do everything we can to make sure homeowners can access that help.”

“We’re very pleased to bring the full power of transit advertising to this important effort,” said Secretary John D. Porcari. “These ads will be seen by more than 240,000 Maryland transit riders a day.”

With homeownership and neighborhoods threatened by defaulting subprime and “exotic” mortgages, Governor O’Malley in June 2007 initiated an effort to combat rising foreclosure rates in Maryland. Governor O’Malley launched the HOPE Initiative, or Home Owners Preserving Equity, which provides access to counseling services and resources for homeowners needing to refinance, and created the Homeownership Preservation Task Force to stuffy the issue and make recommendations for reform.

As a result of the Task Force’s recommendations, Governor O’Malley introduced sweeping reforms, including improving the regulation of mortgage industry professionals and reforming lending practices, creating a criminal mortgage fraud statute, modifying the Protection for Homeowners in Foreclosure Act (PHIFA), and reforming the foreclosure process. The General Assembly approved the measures overwhelmingly.

DHCD has developed two refinance loans, called Lifeline and Homesaver respectively. Earlier this year, Governor O’Malley announced the “Bridge to HOPE” Loan Program, which provides small gap loans at zero percent interest to homeowners facing difficulty, giving them time to get back on their feet or find a solution.

The statewide program is administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Development Administration (CDA). Governor O’Malley has also been working with mortgage loan servicers to set a standard for consistent, timely and sustainable loss mitigation services for Maryland homeowners. Governor O’Malley has also been working with banks to develop a product that would enable more homeowners to refinance.

Since July 2008, the 17 initial HOPE counseling agencies have provided foreclosure prevention assistance to more than 4,000 homeowners and has fielded more than 4,500 calls for assistance. Maryland recently expanded the HOPE counseling network to a total of 28 nonprofit housing counselors with grants totaling $1.6 million. These nonprofits will be able to assist more than 6,000 homeowners in the coming year.

Source: Governor Martin O’Malley's Office

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