SAN DIEGO, July 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Program today announced that its expanded HERO Protect™ service includes additional protections for all customers ages 65 and up, including new direct training for contractors who work with HERO on making sure seniors fully understand the home improvement project they plan to pursue and related financial obligations.
The HERO Program is a partnership with local governments throughout California and the company that administers it, Renovate America. HERO offers financing for energy and water efficiency and renewable energy improvements for homeowners.
HERO has been working with law enforcement and experts on aging and fraud prevention, and has created a new Senior Care training program for independent contractors.
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."
HERO Protect™ also ensures that:
- All participating contractors are fully qualified and have been trained in how to clearly and correctly describe how HERO financing works to potential customers.
- Products installed through HERO financing offer significant water and energy savings.
- HERO customers only agree to a scope of work that falls within HERO financing limits.
- All HERO-financed work is conducted with appropriate permits.
- No payment is released to contractors until the homeowner is fully satisfied with the work.
In addition, all HERO customers ages 65 and older take part in a "terms confirmation" call with a HERO Protect™ representative, after they have agreed to a home improvement with the independent contractor, to ensure that they accurately understand the work performed on their home and the terms of their financing. If HERO Program representatives discover the homeowner does not fully understand the terms or the improvement, they are counseled they can terminate their contracts. If it is discovered that misrepresentation or fraud is suspected, HERO Protect™ staff investigate, suspend, terminate and report unethical behavior to law enforcement.
The HERO Program was recently recognized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for "outstanding assistance" and information that was the linchpin in successful prosecution of a Riverside County telemarketer, as a part of a 13-person fraud investigation.
RENOVATE AMERICA & THE HERO PROGRAM
Renovate America partners with more than 325 California cities and counties to make energy efficient and water conservation improvements more affordable through the HERO Program, the fastest-growing energy efficiency financing program in the nation. Through the HERO Program, cities and counties are stimulating local economies with new investments in home improvements that create thousands of new jobs, reduce CO2 emissions, conserve water, lower utility bills, and increase the marketability of properties. Renovate America has funded more than 30,000 improvements which will help California save over 1 billion gallons of water and $1.5 Billion in lower utility bills since HERO launched in December 2011. To learn more about the company visit www.renovateamerica.com, and the HERO Program at www.heroprogram.com.
SOURCE HERO Program