By Greg Hazley
The federal agency created in 2008 to oversee Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the secondary mortgage markets is expected to bring in PR firm support this month for the revamped program aimed to aid “underwater” homeowners.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency handles the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, created in 2009 but revised in 2011 to help struggling mortgage borrowers.
The FHFA’s Office of Congressional Affairs and Communications is eying PR counsel to develop a marketing plan to educate consumers about the HARP program.
In the wake of criticism that the administration was not doing enough for struggling homeowners, the Obama administration -- which continues to spar with FHFA director Ed DeMarco -- in late 2011 relaxed the qualification requirements to participate in the program and extended its deadline until the end of 2013.
The FHFA declined to comment on the PR assignment and pointed this website to a procurement document which says a campaign is estimated to run from March 1 through the end of the year.
A Washington Post columnist last month dubbed DeMarco “the administration’s biggest impediment to help for underwater homeowners” because he won’t support reduction in the principal amounts of home loans to help borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth.