Antoinette P. Banks (HUD): (202) 708-0685
Susan Jacobsen (Ad Council): (212) 984-1919
January 19, 2006
HUD AND AD COUNCIL LAUNCH CAMPAIGN TO FIGHT EVACUEE HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
"There is hope because there is help"
HOUSTON - Today Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson and the Ad Council's Executive Vice President Priscilla Natkins launched a national campaign designed to increase recognition of fair housing rights and reporting of housing discrimination by making hurricane evacuees aware of housing laws. The public service announcements were created pro bono by ad agency Lowe Worldwide to help those displaced by the hurricanes who are seeking housing and have been a victim of housing discrimination. The PSAs also seek to remind those who rent or sell property that housing discrimination is illegal.
"The hurricanes caused thousands of people to flee their homes with only the clothes on their backs. HUD is committed to protecting the rights of those still searching for a place to call home. These Americans deserve our best, not a door closed in their face because of the color of their skin," said Secretary Alphonso Jackson.
The campaign consists of television, radio, newspaper and magazine advertising, which dramatically illustrate the difficulties many hurricane survivors face - "the storm isn't over." The TV spots feature scenes from the hurricanes' devastation and highlight the excuses often heard. The PSAs remind hurricane survivors that housing discrimination is illegal and conclude with the line, "There is hope, there is help." The ads direct audiences to call 1-800-669-9777 if they feel they may have been victims.
HUD studies suggest that many hurricane evacuees may experience some form of discrimination during their search for new housing. A 2000 HUD study found that African-Americans and Latinos face discrimination approximately 20% of the time they seek to buy or rent housing. Another study, released in 2005, showed that persons with disabilities face discrimination one in three times that they attempt to rent an apartment. The Census Bureau estimates that the majority of the residents displaced by the Gulf Coast hurricanes are minorities, while 20% are persons with disabilities.
"The majority of individuals who experience housing discrimination aren't even aware that they have been victimized and that they would have received different treatment if they were of a different race or national origin, or if they had no disability," according to Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of The Advertising Council. "This poignant and compelling advertising, created pro bono by Lowe, will empower hurricane survivors to become aware of what to look out for so they can report these incidents and stop them from happening again."
"The Ad Council and Department of Housing and Urban Development are doing important work to highlight the problem of housing discrimination, and I'm glad that Lowe can contribute to these efforts," said Mark Wnek, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Lowe, New York. "We can't forget the daily struggles the displaced residents of New Orleans continue to face as they rebuild their lives."
This week, television and radio PSAs are being distributed to stations nationwide this week via the Fast Channel Network. Newspaper and magazine ads were distributed in December. The new PSAs will air and run in advertising time and space that will be donated by the media.
The Federal Fair Housing Act, which was signed over 36 years ago, prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability. HUD is the primary federal agency charged with enforcing the nation's fair housing laws.
Lowe Worldwide was founded in London in 1981, with a handful of people and the ambition to build a top global agency through producing effective, high quality creative advertising. Today, the group has earned an enviable reputation for building powerful brands for an outstanding roster of global clients which includes Unilever, Electrolux, Johnson & Johnson and Nestle. Lowe is owned by The Interpublic Group.
The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit www.adcouncil.org.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 or DOJ at 1-800-896-7743 or (202) 514-4713. Additional information is available at www.hud.gov and www.usdoj.gov.