ACORN updates

colist-admin at colist-admin at
Sun Mar 11 15:42:58 CST 2001

[ed:  thanks to Steven for the organizing stories.  We can look forward to 
regular updates like this.]

  From: Steven Kest <natexdirect at>

Recent ACORN victories and campaigns


On Feb. 20, Long Island ACORN succeeded in getting the Village of Hempstead 
to pass a living-wage resolution.  The resolution commits the Village 
Trustees to work with local labor and community-based organizations to 
enact a binding living-wage ordinance that would require businesses getting 
big contracts or tax breaks from the Village to pay a living wage of at 
least $9.14 an hour.  The resolution is available at 
<> Contact Jen Kern of ACORN's Living 
Wage Resource Center at (202) 547-2500, 
<mailto:NatAcornCam at>NatAcornCam at or Heather Appel at 
Long Island ACORN: (516) 481-6769, 
<mailto:NYAcornLI at>NYAcornLI at


On March 1, New Mexico ACORN's fight for a living wage for state employees 
took a step forward as our living wage bill passed unanimously through the 
House Government & Urban Affairs Committee. New Mexico ACORN and other 
members of the New Mexico Living Wage Coalition packed the committee room 
and even the adjoining hallway to testify about the need to raise the 
lowest paid public employees up to a living wage of $8.50 an hour.  The 
Coalition delivered testimony from four state employees, the state AFL-CIO, 
AFSCME, CWA, New Mexico Federation of Teachers, Human Needs Coordinating 
Council, the New Mexico Public Health Association, and ACORN members.  Next 
the Coalition moves to win the $1.25 million budget appropriation necessary 
for the raises.  For more information, contact Matthew Henderson at 
<mailto:nmacorn at>nmacorn at, (505) 244-1086.


ACORN is campaigning in several cities for increased assistance for 
low-income people struggling to meet skyrocketing utilities costs. Seattle 
ACORN members over the past several weeks have attended City Council 
meetings, discussed the matter with Council Members, debated the 
Superintendent of Seattle City Light on TV, and held a large public meeting 
to press their demands.  On Feb. 26 they won one of their main goals.  The 
city agreed to raise the income threshold for families to qualify for 
heating assistance from 125 percent to 200 percent of federal poverty 
level, so that more families qualify for assistance.  ACORN also convinced 
the City to increase the amount of assistance for low-income families to $2 
million.  For more information contact Doug Bloch at 
<mailto:waacorn at>waacorn at, (206) 723-5845.


Associates First Capital Corporation, and Citigroup, which recently 
purchased the company, were charged on March 6 with "systematic and 
widespread abusive lending practices, commonly known as `predatory 
lending.'"  The FTC alleged what ACORN and others have long complained of, 
namely that the Associates engaged in deceptive marketing practices that 
induced consumers to refinance existing debts into home loans with high 
interest rates, costs, and fees, and to purchase high-cost credit 
insurance.  The FTC also charged The Associates with violating several 
other federal laws, including the Truth in Lending Act, Fair Credit 
Reporting Act, and Equal Credit Opportunity Act.  The FTC has asked the 
court to award redress to all victims.


Philadelphia ACORN has engaged in a pitched battle to win city legislation 
against unfair and abusive mortgage lending practices. This campaign has 
involved public demonstrations against predatory lenders, testimony at City 
Council hearings, and - through the ACORN Housing Corporation - assistance 
for predatory lending victims and would-be homebuyers.  ACORN's work has 
captured headlines day after day for weeks, including numerous editorials 
supporting the legislation and a series of articles featuring ACORN members 
in the Philadelphia Daily News.

In Philly, as around the country, ACORN continues to focus on Household 
Finance as a particularly egregious abuser.  ACORN members last week 
visited Household offices in South Philly to demand they meet to adjust 
unfair loans and drop opposition to the anti-predatory lending bill.  To 
find out what you can do to pressure Household to shape up, visit 


ACORN filed a law suit to prevent the Edison corporation from taking over 
five New York City public schools.  The suit, which was filed in the State 
Supreme Court in Brooklyn, claimed the Board of Education and Chancellor 
Harold O. Levy violated state education law by failing to consult with the 
community school boards about the Edison contract and setting up a voting 
process susceptible to fraud.  ACORN parents are concerned that an Edison 
takeover could reduce the possibilities for parental control and for 
quality education.  On March 2, a State Supreme Court justice in Brooklyn 
ordered the Board of Education to delay for up to 10 days the mailing of 
ballots asking parents whether to turn over the management of the schools 
to Edison.  ACORN's lawsuit asks for a delay in the vote until at least 
May.  In an earlier victory in February, Levy agreed to pay for three ACORN 
mailings to parents.  The court has supported that decision, but refused to 
give ACORN the same access to parents' names and numbers that Edison has 
been given.  To learn more, contact Bertha Lewis at(718) 246-7900.


ACORN has released reports on Denver and Chicago schools documenting the 
lack of fully certified teachers and  the over large class sizes in schools 
in low-income neighborhoods.  ACORN members are demanding a number of 
changes by these school systems in order to provide all of the children in 
these cities with an equal quality education. ACORN will be launching 
similar campaigns in other cities across the country this Spring.

On March 5 Chicago ACORN released "LEAVE NO SCHOOL BEHIND: Instructional 
Inequality and its Impact on ACORN Neighborhood High Schools."  This report 
compares four schools in low-income neighborhoods with four schools in 
wealthier parts of Chicago.  It finds the low-income schools 
disproportionately lacking in teachers with credentials, experience, and 
certificates, and disproportionately faced with teacher vacancies.  In 
response to these complaints, School Board President Gery Chico has said 
the system will try to hire twice as many new teachers as usual--3,000-- by 
next fall.

On Feb. 13 Denver ACORN held a public hearing at Macedonia Baptist Church 
in Denver to release the first of three reports on inequality in Denver 
Public Schools.  The report, "Quality Education for the Few: a report on 
the state of elementary schools in Denver," found that schools in 
low-income communities in Denver have the least experienced staff and large 
class sizes.

Denver ACORN is demanding that the School Board provide:  1) additional 
money for teacher training, 2) teams of master teachers to help turn poorly 
performing schools around, 3) records of class sizes for every class, not 
just district averages, 4) additional instructional resources in at-risk 

The Chicago and Denver Reports are available on the Internet at 
<>  (click on "Library" and then on 
"Parent Organizing and Education").  Or contact David Swanson, ACORN 
communications coordinator, at (202) 547-2500 or 
<mailto:AcornNews at>AcornNews at to obtain copies.

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the 
nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate- income 
families, with over 100,000 member families organized into 500 neighborhood 
chapters in 40 cities across the country.  Since 1970 ACORN has taken 
action and won victories on issues of concern to our members. Our 
priorities include: better housing for first time homebuyers and tenants, 
living wages for low-wage workers, more investment in our communities from 
banks and governments, and better public schools. We achieve these goals by 
building community organizations that have the power to win changes -- 
through direct action, negotiation, legislation, and voter participation. 
ACORN's website is at <>  To 
subscribe to ACORN's Email list send an Email with the word subscribe in 
the subject line to 
<mailto:ACORN_Alerts-subscribe at>ACORN_Alerts-subscribe@

David Swanson, communications coordinator
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
739 8th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 547-2500 p
(202) 546-2483 f
<mailto:acornnews at>acornnews at

Steven Kest, Executive Director
88 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
natexdirect at or skest at

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