Our guest blogger today is Lee Jones, Regional Public Affairs Officer, Region 10 (Idaho, Oregon, Alaska and Washington State)
Like it or not, advertising works. Hit mute on the TV or spin the dial to another station all you want. But be sure, like the sand that gets in your shoes at the beach, ads will sneak into our brains no matter what you do.
Which is why so many companies spend so much money for so little air time on Super Bowl Sunday. Or why HUD uses public service campaigns to promote the missions given us by the President and the Congress.
Among the most important of these is enforcement of the Fair Housing Act which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, national origin or familial status. Since the Act was passed almost 50 years ago, almost every Spring we’ve enlisted the creative talents of advertising firms to develop, at no cost, a catchy, effective way to remind Americans of their obligations and rights under the Act.
And they work. How do we know? Well, with every year since its passage in 1967, the Fair Housing Act has been an increasingly effective tool against housing discrimination, steadily and surely rooting it out in communities across the country. But while our enforcement activities are up, so too are the number of complaints we receive under the Act. Why? Because, thanks to these ad campaigns, ever more people become aware of – and act on – their rights under the Act.
HUD’s just launched its 2011 Fair Housing public service ad campaign. It’s a good, creative one, urging people to “Live Free” by both exercising their rights and fulfilling their obligations under the Act. And we hope you’ll get a chance to catch it in a newspaper or TV or radio station near you.
Most organizations get pretty unhappy when another gets in the act and runs a similar campaign. Not HUD. We’re pleased, in fact, when others step forward to promote the Act.
Like Boise, Idaho. In 2008 Boise Mayor David Bieter convened a Fair Housing Task Force composed of citizens from the real estate, human rights, advocacy, housing, and banking sectors to look at how the Act could be promoted. On April 5th of 2011 the Task Force presented its answer to the City Council – an ambitious, citywide campaign of television and radio public-service ads, billboards, bus panels, bus benches, and community presentations focused on the theme “Good Neighbors + Fair Housing = Strong Communities” and supported by some $20,000 in cash and in-kind donations from almost 20 partner. “What makes this campaign so special,” said HUD’s Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride, “is that it’s home-grown, from start-to-finish reflecting the vision and commitment of the people of Boise.”
“It is our hope and expectation that individuals and families will find our city accessible and accommodating when it comes to housing choice,” explained Greg Morris, the City’s Fair Housing Coordinator, “and that our local housing providers will have a better understanding of their responsibilities under the law as a result of this campaign,”
Boise’s goal, says Mayor Bieter, is to become “the most livable city in the country.” By sending the message loud and clear through this campaign that its doors are open to all, it’s taken another huge step to achieving it.