ACORN News Issue 17

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Sun Nov 25 16:12:02 CST 2001


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 From: "David Swanson" <acornnews at acorn.org>

ACORN News
Issue 17, Nov. 20, 2001

1. ACORN Demands That President Release Utility Assistance 
Funds
2. Chicago Prevents Gas Shutoffs
3. ACORN Releases Report on Predatory Lending
4. Court Denies Request for Preliminary Injunction Against Oakland
Anti-Predatory Lending Ordinance
5. State of California Sues Household
6. ACORN Continues to Push for Economic Stimulus Package
7. Philadelphia Fights to Keep Public Schools Public
8. Hempstead Struggles to Preserve Living Wage Law
9. Baltimore Continues to Block Corporate Welfare for Citifinancial
10. Baltimore Proposes Single-Member Council Districts
11. Los Angeles Pushes for Housing Trust Fund
12. Minnesota Works for Affordable Housing
13. DC Pushes Council Member to Help Create Affordable Housing
14. ACORN Expands to Four New Cities

1. ACORN DEMANDS THAT PRESIDENT RELEASE UTILITY 
ASSISTANCE FUNDS -- Congress
appropriated $300 million for the Low-Income Home Energy 
Assistance Program
(LIHEAP) when it passed the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 
2001. These
funds are urgently needed to help families keep their homes heated 
as winter
sets in, but President Bush is blocking release of this money.  
ACORN
members will hold demonstrations in several cities tomorrow to 
demand that
the President release this money.  To send a letter to the president, 
link
to
http://www.acorn.org/acorn10/takeaction.htm.  For more 
information, contact
Chris Saffert at legnatacorn at acorn.org or 202-547-2500.

2. CHICAGO PREVENTS GAS SHUTOFFS - Chicago ACORN has 
been working since last
winter to stop the local gas company from shutting off residents' 
service.
Members have held rallies, met with government and company 
representatives,
and blocked the street to prevent trucks from driving to make 
shutoffs.
ACORN leaders negotiated with Peoples Gas on Nov. 6, and won 
the following
commitments.
· No more shutoffs for regular bill payers!  If you have made six 
payments
on your gas bill in the last 12 months, and you owe more than 
$300, then you
won't be disconnected or sent a disconnection notice.
· One third program:  No shutoffs if you owe less than $300, as long 
as you
pay one-third within two weeks and the other two-thirds over the 
next two
months.
· A pilot program for payments based on income.
For more information, contact Madeline Talbot at 
ilacorn at acorn.org or
312-939-7488.

3. ACORN RELEASES REPORT ON PREDATORY LENDING - 
On Nov. 14, ACORN and ACORN
Housing Corporation released "Separate and Unequal 2001: 
Predatory Lending
in America," a report documenting the concentration of subprime 
lending to
minority and low-income borrowers.  The report includes national 
data and
data from 60 metropolitan areas.  ACORN chapters in a dozen 
cities held
rallies and press conferences last Wednesday to release the report 
and allow
victims of predatory lending to speak.  The report has been 
covered by over
50 newspapers.  It is available at
http://www.acorn.org/acorn10/predatorylending/reports.htm.  For 
more
information, contact Lisa Donner at acorncampaign at acorn.org or 
718-246-7900.

4. COURT DENIES REQUEST FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION 
AGAINST OAKLAND
ANTI-PREDATORY LENDING ORDINANCE - After a long 
campaign by ACORN, the
Oakland, Calif., City Council on Oct. 2, 2001, passed a tough
anti-predatory-lending ordinance.  Just before it was scheduled to 
go into
effect, the American Financial Services Association, a lender trade 
group,
sued to block the law, as they have done in cities around the 
country.  On
Nov. 15, Alameda County Superior Court Judge James Richman 
denied AFSA's
request for a preliminary injunction against the ordinance, saying 
that
granting an injunction would do more harm to the people of 
Oakland than
denying it would to AFSA's members.  He was not convinced by 
AFSA's
arguments that CA state law, including the newly passed state law 
against
predatory lending, preempted the more protective Oakland 
ordinance, and he
also questioned AFSA's standing to sue in this case.  For more 
information,
contact Doug Bloch at caacornoaro at acorn.org or 510-436-5690.

5. STATE OF CALIFORNIA SUES HOUSEHOLD - The California 
Department of
Corporations filed a civil suit in LA Superior Court for $8.5 million
against Household and Beneficial for violations of state lending 
laws.  The
suit, filed on Nov 9th , called the lenders' conduct "purposeful, 
persistent
and obstinate . . . representing, at best, plain indifference, and, at
worst, intentional disregard" of state law.  ACORN continues to 
pursue
additional complaints about Household's lending practices with 
state
regulators in California and around the country.  For more 
information,
contact Lisa Donner at acorncampaign at acorn.org or 718-246-
7900.

6. ACORN CONTINUES TO PUSH FOR ECONOMIC STIMULUS 
PACKAGE - ACORN is urging
Congress to pass an economic stimulus package directed at low- 
and
moderate-income Americans, and (in contrast to some of the 
corporate welfare
proposals under consideration) at actually stimulating the economy.  
ACORN
members in several cities staged events to gain attention for this 
issue on
Nov. 13.  For more information, link to
http://www.acorn.org/acorn10/otheracornwork/releases.htm or 
contact Chris
Saffert at legnatacorn at acorn.org or 202-547-2500.

7. PHILADELPHIA FIGHTS TO KEEP PUBLIC SCHOOLS PUBLIC 
- With the state of
Pennsylvania threatening to take over Philadelphia's public schools 
and give
them to the for-profit Edison Corporation, ACORN is leading a 
coalition of
parents, students, teachers, and community leaders campaigning to 
keep the
schools public and increase state funding.  A poll commissioned by 
ACORN
found that the vast majority of Philadelphians support this 
approach.
Parents, students, and teachers, with the support of ACORN 
members, are
holding demonstrations at dozens of schools around the city over 
the next
two weeks in order to make clear that Edison is not welcome in 
Philadelphia.
For more information, link to
http://www.acorn.org/acorn10/betterschools/releases.htm or contact 
Jeff
Ordower at paacorn at acorn.org or 215-765-0042.

8. HEMPSTEAD STRUGGLES TO PRESERVE LIVING WAGE 
LAW -- On Oct. 15, the
Trustees of the Village of Hempstead, N.Y., unanimously approved 
a
living-wage law promoted by ACORN and the Working Families 
Party.  On Oct.
25, two Trustees attempted unsuccessfully to repeal the law and 
pass a
watered-down version.  Members of Long Island ACORN and the 
WFP were on hand
to protest changing the law.  Today another attempt is expected to 
be made
to modify the law, and ACORN members will again be on hand to 
oppose the
change.  For more information, contact Heather Appel at 
nyacornli at acorn.org
or 516-481-6769.

9. BALTIMORE CONTINUES TO BLOCK CORPORATE 
WELFARE FOR CITIFINANCIAL - ACORN
and a growing coalition of labor and community allies continue to 
stymie
attempts by Baltimore City Council Members to give tax breaks and 
free
parking to a predatory lending company, Citifinancial.  On Nov. 12, 
a group
of ACORN members attended a City Council meeting, at which the 
proposal to
give welfare to Citifi failed to win the necessary three-quarters of 
Council
Members' votes.  Last night, ACORN members and allies from 
HERE and AFSCME
greeted Council Members leaving their offices and demanded that 
they vote
against the proposal.  ACORN is also generating postcards and 
phone calls to
Council Members.  The issue has sharply divided the City Council, 
which is
expected to vote on it again in 10 days.  For more information, 
contact
Mitch Klein at mdacorn at acorn.org or 410-752-2228.

10. BALTIMORE PROPOSES SINGLE-MEMBER COUNCIL 
DISTRICTS - On Nov. 8, ACORN
held a rally with 150 people, including 100 ACORN members plus 
allies from
the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the City Union of Baltimore, AFT, NAACP, 
the League of
Women Voters, and the Baltimore Greens.  The event kicked off a 
petition
drive to reshape the City Council.  Currently, there are six wards, 
which
elect three members each.  The petition is aimed at creating, 
instead, 14
small single-member districts, a change that would ensure that 
more
neighborhoods are represented.  Ten thousand signatures are 
needed to put
the question on the ballot next November.  For more information, 
contact
Mitch Klein at mdacorn at acorn.org or 410-752-2228.

11. LOS ANGELES PUSHES FOR HOUSING TRUST FUND - On 
the morning of Nov. 7, a
group of 350-400 people, lead by ACORN, marched on Los 
Angeles City Hall to
demand solutions to the city's housing crisis, including the passage 
of a
$100 million Housing Trust Fund.  The group held a press 
conference on the
steps of City Hall, featuring city council members, union leaders, 
and other
allies.  The event was chaired by ACORN leader Bon Bon Hurd and 
featured two
other ACORN leaders.  The crowd entered and completely filled the 
Council
Chambers, where leaders addressed the Council.  The trust fund 
goes to a
vote within two weeks.  ACORN is also pushing for expanded 
emergency rental
assistance for low-income tenants, including those in danger of 
losing their
homes or unable to pay substantial move-in charges.  For more 
information,
contact Amy Schur at caacorn at acorn.org or 213-747-4211.

12. MINNESOTA WORKS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING - On 
Nov. 3, Minnesota ACORN
members rallied at the construction site of Washburn Lofts 
condominiums to
protest the project's lack of affordable housing units despite $358 
million
in Minneapolis public funds being used. This event followed on a 
150 person
"Lifestyles of the rich and subsidized Tour", which called attention 
to this
issue last month. Two Minneapolis City Council candidates who 
subsequently
won their elections (Natalie Johnson Lee and Dean Zimmerman) 
have
participated in ACORN's actions. ACORN members are demanding 
that at least
20% of the units in the riverfront housing development be made 
affordable to
low and moderate income families. ACORN members have also 
won commitments
from Minneapolis elected officials and candidates to support a $10 
million
Affordable Housing Trust Fund. For more information, contact 
Becky Gomer at
mnacorn at acorn.org or 651-642-9639.

13. DC PUSHES COUNCIL MEMBER TO HELP CREATE 
AFFORDABLE HOUSING - Washington
DC ACORN is urging the DC City Council to help improve the 
Trinidad
neighborhood by (1) cleaning up 110 abandoned properties, 
removing illegally
dumped trash, boarding up and securing the structures, and baiting 
them for
rodents, and (2) working with ACORN to force corporate property 
owners to
turn over their vacant properties to ACORN so that ACORN and 
local
non-profit developers can rehabilitate them. ACORN will recruit 
renters from
the neighborhood and give them loan counseling through ACORN 
Housing
Corporation to help them purchase the rehabilitated homes.  
ACORN tried for
weeks to meet with Council Member Vincent Orange to discuss 
these proposals.
After Orange failed to attend two meetings, ACORN members 
dumped trash on
his front lawn.  Orange attended a meeting with 100 ACORN 
members and
residents of Trinidad last Tuesday.  For more information contact 
Will Ward
at dcacorn at acorn.org or 202-547-9292.

14. ACORN EXPANDS TO FOUR NEW CITIES - ACORN has 
opened, or will open in the
next two weeks, new chapters in Jacksonville, Fla.; Tampa-St. 
Petersburg,
Fla.; San Antonio Texas, and San Francisco, Calif.  The contact 
information
is as follows:

Jacksonville
Head Organizer: Henrietta Hill-Murray
Phone: 904-389-0603
Fax: 904-389-0729
Address: 915 King Street, Jacksonville, Fla., 32204

Tampa-St. Petersburg
Head Organizer: Christine Allamano
Email: joanofarq at juno.com
Phone: 727-327-6869
Fax: 727-327-7869
Address: 1830 49th St. S, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33707

San Antonio
Head Organizer: Sasha Baltins
Email: seiu100tx at acorn.org
Phone: 210-226-1214
Fax: 210-226-3604
Address: 308 El Paso Street, San Antonio, Texas 78207

San Francisco
Head Organizer: John Eller
Email: caacornsf at acorn.org
Phone: 415-225-7438
Address: 449 Turk Street, San Francisco, Calif. 94102

ACORN HAS OPENINGS FOR ORGANIZERS - ACORN 
Organizers build organizations in
low-income communities. How? House by house, family by family, 
organizers
hear from community residents what they want changed in their 
neighborhood,
city, state, and country. Organizers work with community residents 
to hold
meetings, do research on key issues, and develop campaign 
strategies to get
these issues addressed. The ACORN organizer's job is to work for 
the
membership of ACORN, helping them build the power they need to 
win the
things their communities and families need.  Interested?  See this 
map to
find the nearest ACORN chapter: http://www.acorn.org/contact-
us/index.htm.
Then see this page for more information and how to apply:
http://www.acorn.org/proselytize/be-an-organizer.html.

LINK TO PAST POSTINGS TO THIS LIST AT
http://www.acorn.org/acorn10/pastpostings/index.htm.

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.

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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
acornnews at acorn.org
http://www.acorn.org
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