By Roy L Hales. Originally published at theECOreport.com
HERO PACE has been approved in 328 communities, and is available to 76% of California’s population. As of last week, 38,568 homes have taken advantage of the opportunity to finance energy and water saving devices through their property taxes. As a result, HERO has offset 1.4 million tons of CO2 emissions and saved more than 5.2 billion KwHs of electricity, 1.1 billion gallons of water and offset 1.4 million tons of CO2 emissions. They also offer HERO Protect, PACE’s Strongest Consumer Protection Program.
The Launch of HERO Protect™
HERO Protect™ provides homeowners with free information about contractor performance, dispute resolution services, and investigative services. They will even undertake law enforcement actions.
“The expanded service will initially be offered to communities in Riverside County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County, and Orange County,” said CEO J.P. McNeill of Renovate America, which operates the HERO program.
These four counties were chosen for the launch because they contain the highest percentage of HERO contractors. The program will soon expand into every community using the HERO program.
“Any person living in areas where the HERO program is (presently) active, who has an issue with a contractor, whether it is a HERO related job or not, can all out consumer protection program,” said a company spokesperson.
HERO’s Code Of Conduct
To which McNeill adds, “Our hope is that this will positively impact the overall home improvement market. We’ve seen a halo effect when consumers and businesses become more aware and more careful to work within established guidelines.”
Code of Conduct violations are evaluated on three criteria: impact on consumer protection, degree of cooperation with remedial actions; and willingness to correct business practices.
HERO Protect™ currently employs a staff of 23, including four former police investigators and a former utility investigator.
To date, more than 60 individuals or contracting companies have been suspended from the HERO program because of violations.
A number of other contractors with inactive licenses have also been suspended.
HERO has also developed a new Senior Care training program for independent contractors. In their press release it says:
The HERO Program is working with Dr. Lisa Gibbs, Director of the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect and Chief of Geriatric Medicine at UC Irvine, to develop appropriate training for home improvement contractors. “Elder abuse, including financial abuse, occurs in staggering numbers,” said Dr. Gibbs. “Unfortunately, older adults are often targeted because they have homes and savings, and many have medical conditions such as memory problems, or vision and hearing problems, which add to their vulnerability. Education for those who do business with older adults protects not only the older adults, but the contractors and professionals as well.”
“You don’t even know the stress the HERO Program removed,” said Alora Martinez, whose grandfather in Beaumont, California, in his 90s, was sold a $16,000 HVAC system he never needed by a contractor working with non-HERO financing. Martinez said she found her way to Steve Witte with the HERO Program through a very helpful employee at the California Contractors State License Board. “Even though HERO didn’t stand to profit at all, Steve helped get the contractor to drop my grandfather’s contract. It’s so rare to find someone who’s just out to help your community.”
FBI RECOGNITION OF HERO INVESTIGATIVE ASSISTANCE
In May of this year, a special agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited the HERO Program headquarters to recognize the Program. He presented certificates of recognition for “outstanding assistance,” in which the Program helped gather critical information for the enforcement agency on a 13-person mortgage fraud ring bust. The FBI’s recognition singled out the significant amount of investigative assistance the HERO Program provided, calling the help “immeasurable.” The recognition is a rare acknowledgment and representatives from Renovate America believe it to be the first award of its kind presented to a home improvement-financing program.
PACE’s Strongest Consumer Protection Program
This is believed to be the strongest consumer protection program in the industry.
Consumers needing HERO Protect™ services can call a dedicated line at 888-720-HERO from 9am – 5pm PT Monday through Friday, or email HEROProtect@heroprogram.com. They will get a call back on the same day from our investigative and dispute resolution team.
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