WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Wednesday unveiled a new TV advertisement for its anti-foreclosure programs.
The spot shows stone-faced homeowners immobilized by trouble with their mortgage payments. A woman stands motionless on her lawn, morning newspaper in hand as the sprinklers spray her bathrobe. A man stares blankly while pouring coffee all over his kitchen counter. An assembly-line worker lets a conveyor belt send bottles of cranberry juice shattering on the floor.
"When some people struggle with their mortgage payments, they become frozen, petrified," the announcer says. "But the people who do something -- the people who take action -- are far more likely to get the most positive outcome."
The Treasury Department, which oversees the Making Home Affordable program, said the ad is inspired by feedback from homeowners who said they delayed reaching out for assistance because they were overwhelmed or afraid. The public service announcement, crafted by Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be distributed to 33,000 media outlets across the country to air in donated space, the government said.
The administration has said it wants to reduce barriers to refinancing under its Home Affordable Refinance Program so homeowners could take advantage of current low interest rates. The program, which targets homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth, was supposed to reach 5 million borrowers -- but so far it's only helped 800,000.
President Obama said in 2009 that the centerpiece of his administration's anti-foreclosure efforts, the Home Affordable Modification Program, would help 3 to 4 million homeowners modify the terms of their mortgages. While more than a million homeowners have been offered preliminary modifications under HAMP, fewer homeowners have had their mortgages permanently modified than those who have been kicked out of the initiative. Banks and mortgage servicing companies, which directly administer HAMP, are supposed to reduce eligible homeowners' monthly payments in exchange for incentive payments from the government.
Homeowners have complained that banks repeatedly lose documents and provide conflicting information. The Treasury Department announced in September that it would withhold incentive payments from Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase for mistreating homeowners trying to get help under HAMP.
Arthur Delaney is the author of "A People's History of the Great Recession," HuffPost's first e-book.