Rochester, N.Y. - John Ortiz works two jobs to pay the mortgage on his city home. Yet since the recession began in 2008, even that is barely enough.
“I do live paycheck to paycheck, honestly,” he says from his front porch. “I do sometimes have a struggle paying for my bills.”
Three months ago he came across a website that caught his attention.
Brainiacs from Mars, a California ad agency, is offering to turn homes into large, colorful ads for up to a year, before painting them back.
Oh, and for every month it’s a billboard they’ll pay your mortgage.
“It’s one way for us to dig people out of this economy,” says Romeo Mendoza of Maniacs. “The government is doing what it can but the money is in the private sector.”
The company has painted one home so far and paid the $2,000 dollar monthly mortgage for three months in that case. It plans to paint up to 3,000 homes across the country.
How many of those homes are in Rochester depends on willing applicants and advertisers.
Homeowner Ortiz: “If they want to paint it orange and yellow or whatever color they want to paint it- go for it! I have no problem."
Reporter: “What do you think your neighbors will say?”
Ortiz: “I’m not so sure about that.”
The company argues neighbors will tolerate a temporary billboard to avoid neighborhood declines that can come with a permanent foreclosure.
In some Rochester-area communities zoning laws would prevent homeowners from taking part.
The company has received 44,000 applications from cities all across the country. In Rochester 213 people have filled out applications.
Some of them are from people who are under water with their mortgage, others who are more like John Ortiz- just trying to get ahead.
“It would be great to have extra money to pay off my bills, to pay off these taxes and to fix this house,” he says.
To learn more about the program: http://brainiacsfrommars.com/paintmyhouse.html
A footnote for City of Rochester residents: In a residential district, painting your house to be a billboard (advertising sign) would be regulated by 120-177M.(1) and it is further regulated by 120-195B.(5)(d) of the City Code, which indicates that a variance cannot be issued for a billboard. In short, there is no way to legally paint your house to be a billboard in a residential district in the City of Rochester.