ACORN News December 4, 2002

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[ed:  this is one of the regular ACORN News installments.]

From:           	David Swanson <acornnews at>

December 4, 2002

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1. New York Passes Predatory Lending Ordinance
2. Los Angeles Passes Predatory Lending Ordinance
3. New York Mayor Signs Living Wage Bill
4. ACORN Releases Report on Subprime Lending
5. ACORN Releases Report on No Child Left Behind
6. ACORN Promotes Anti-Predatory Lending Legislation
7. ACORN Keeps Water Public
8. Portland Protests Storm-Water Bills
9. Sacramento Pushes for Living Wage
10. Norwalk Promotes Zoning for Affordable Housing
11. D.C. Promotes Zoning for Affordable Housing
12. Maryland Child Care Administration Wins Turkey of Year Award
13. ACORN Takes Part in Day of Action on Wal-Mart
14. Chicago Demands Improved Policing
15. New York Welfare Mothers to Be Named Women of the Year
16. Philly Wins Librarian at Middle School
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Ban Predatory Lending

1. NY PASSES PREDATORY LENDING ORDINANCE - On November 20, the New York City
Council voted, 40-5, to override the Mayor's veto of predatory lending
legislation, enacting the bill into law.  The Council had passed the bill on
September 25 by a vote of 44-5, following six months of campaigning by
ACORN.  The ordinance bans the City from doing business with predatory
lenders or companies that purchase predatory loans. ACORN members packed
City Hall at each stage in this process and successfully promoted this bill
over the fervent opposition of major lenders, including most prominently
Citigroup.  ACORN estimates that the ordinance will save homeowners between
$75 million and $100 million.  The legislation will take effect in
mid-February.  For more information, link to or contact
Bertha Lewis at nyacornbrkro at or 718-246-7900.

Angeles City Council voted, 11-0, to approve an ordinance that provides the
city's homeowners with significant protections on high-cost home loans.  The
ordinance is scheduled for a second reading on December 10, at which the
council will give final approval.  The ordinance requires that borrowers of
high-cost loans receive loan counseling, that the loans provide them with a
reasonable and tangible net benefit, and that the loans be based on their
ability to repay.  Los Angeles ACORN members began a community education
campaign on predatory lending in 1999.  Victims have streamed into the
office ever since, many of them becoming leaders in the campaign, which has
forced reforms from lenders and last year passed state legislation in
California.  This year, ACORN formed a coalition of over 50 organizations to
push for a local ordinance.  Over 30 ACORN members testified in the three
public hearings held by the City Council's Housing and Community Development
Committee.  Members held several spirited media events at the offices of
local lenders, planned and carried out coalition meetings with the office of
the Mayor and several Council members, and released a report documenting the
extent of the problem.  After working with the offices of specific Council
members, ACORN and allies were able to win the introduction of significant
amendments to the draft language in the ordinance's initial review before
the HCD Committee and to see them passed unanimously despite intense
lobbying by the lending industry.  For more information, link to or contact
Peter Kuhns at caacornlaro at or 213-747-4211.

3. NY MAYOR SIGNS LIVING WAGE BILL - In a major victory for New York ACORN
and allies, the Mayor on November 27 signed a bill establishing a living
wage for more workers than any other such law in the country, giving about
50,000 health care workers a much needed raise.  New York City Council had
passed the bill on October 30.  Shortly before passage of the bill, the
Speaker removed a provision that would have created a living wage for
several thousand non-unionized cafeteria, mailroom, security, and janitorial
staff -- many of them making less than $8 per hour without health benefits.
This change was intended to win the Mayor's support.  For more information,
link to or contact Bertha Lewis
at nyacornbrkro at or 718-246-7900.

Corporation have released a study documenting the concentration of subprime
lending to minority and low-income borrowers.  The report analyzes national
data and data for 67 metropolitan areas, and it looks at both purchase and
refinance loans.  In 2001, 27.76% of all conventional refinance loans
received by African-American homeowners were from subprime lenders, as were
13.60% of the refinance loans received by Latino homeowners, compared to
6.32% of the refinance loans received by white homeowners.  Upper-income
African-American homeowners were more likely than low-income white
homeowners to receive a subprime loan when refinancing.  On November 26,
ACORN chapters around the country held events to release this report, which
has been covered in over 50 newspaper articles.  In Detroit, Phoenix,
Pittsburgh, and other cities, members used the report to pressure the local
and state legislatures to act.  For more information, link to or
contact Chris Saffert at csaffert at or 718-246-7900.

PHOTO: A press conference in New Orleans.  At the podium is ACORN
representative Steve Bradberry.  On the left are three victims of predatory
lending who are about to testify to the media.  They are Sylvia Ruffin,
Alice Stewart and Lawrence Halloran.

PHOTO: U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays meets with Connecticut ACORN members to
discuss predatory lending.

PHOTO: A press conference in Washington, D.C.  Speaking is Ward 4 City
Council member Adrian Fenty.  At left are: DC ACORN Board Member Courtney
Wood, At-Large City Council Member Phil Mendelson, and DC Banking
Commissioner Kathryn Allen. The event took place in front of the home of
ACORN member and predatory lending victim Clifton Lee.

released a study documenting problems in the implementation of the No Child
Left Behind Act, which is intended to help all children succeed
academically.  The report analyzes data from 23 states and 50 school
districts, and finds that in 74% of the states surveyed, the state
department of education has not fulfilled its duty to obtain supplemental
services (tutoring) for children attending failing schools.  In addition,
over half of the states surveyed have not defined what a "highly qualified"
teacher is for their state, preventing parents and schools districts from
making the necessary plans to bring all of their teachers up to the highly
qualified level.  On Nov. 21, ACORN chapters around the country held events
to release the report, which has been covered in over 15 newspaper articles.
In Pittsburgh, Phoenix, and other cities, ACORN members used the report to
pressure elected officials to act.  ACORN chapters across the country are
organizing parents to demand implementation of the following NCLB
· Low income students in schools that have been failing for three or more
years are to be given the opportunity to get tutoring paid for by district
Title I funds.
· Parents in all schools are required to be notified any time that their
child has been taught for more than four weeks by a teacher that is not
highly qualified.
· Teachers in Title I schools are to have equal experience when compared to
other schools in the district.
· School districts are to receive a 20-30% increase in Title I funding for
this school year.  ACORN has been pressing school districts to make sure
that this money is distributed to local schools rather than being diverted
to the central budgets.
For more information, link to
x.php or contact Liz Wolff at research at or 214-826-1443.

PHOTO: On Nov. 27, 2002, in the Bronx ACORN office, ACORN helped parents
apply for Supplemental Educational Services.

pass legislation in several cities and states to restrict predatory lending.

New Jersey ACORN and allies are hopeful to push a strong bill through the
legislature in the coming weeks.  Members held a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at
an ACORN member's home who was thankful for refinancing out of a predatory
loan.  The event generated powerful press coverage.  The Senate committee
will be holding another hearing on the legislation on December 5.

New Mexico ACORN has had positive responses from legislators and the
Attorney General about moving significant legislation in the upcoming
session.  On November 26, ACORN protested at a branch of Wells Fargo Funding
with victims talking about the damage caused by the predatory loans they
received from the lender.  The local head of Wells Fargo had played a major
role in generating campaign contributions for the incoming governor.

In Massachusetts, ACORN has lined up two lead sponsors in each the House and
the Senate, including the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, for a total
of 28 cosponsors in the House and 11 in the Senate, for a tough bill on
predatory lending that was introduced December 4.

Also on December 4, Massachusetts ACORN got bills introduced on other
topics, including a bill on corporate disclosure on which ACORN is working
together with the state AFL-CIO.  That bill has 37 cosponsors in the House
and nine in the Senate.  Also working with the AFL-CIO, ACORN got a bill
introduced to increase the minimum wage and index it to keep pace with the
cost of living.  And, along with a coalition of immigrant groups, ACORN got
a bill introduced to no longer require a Social Security number for
obtaining a driver's license.  For more information, link to or contact Chris Saffert at
csaffert at or 718-246-7900.

7. ACORN KEEPS WATER PUBLIC - In October, ACORN and allies held off
privatization of New Orleans' water supply with a narrow, 6-5, vote of the
Sewer and Water Board rejecting three bids from private companies.  Aware
that the issue would not go away and that the Board would propose rate
increases, ACORN and allies suggested that the Board study other systems
that have been successfully re-engineered.  On November 18, ACORN and allies
held a forum at which 200 people heard the directors of water systems in
Nashville and Phoenix describe how they avoided rate hikes, did
reengineering, and prevented privatization.  The New Orleans Sewer and Water
Board members in attendance agreed to support reengineering.  In a related
victory, representatives of ACORN, SEIU Local 100, and coalition allies flew
to Toronto to testify before that City Council, which then voted down water
privatization.  For more information, link to or contact Beth Butler at
laacorn at or 504-943-0044.

members held a rally to announce that they will pay their storm-water
charges into an escrow account until they get discounts of as much as 35
percent that were promised by the city nearly two years ago.  The discounts
are for  property owners who use dry wells or other devices for runoff
rather than the city's overflow pipes.  For more information, link to or contact Andrew Ginsberg at
oracorn at or 503-788-4362.

9. SACRAMENTO PUSHES FOR LIVING WAGE - After two years of campaigning by
ACORN and allies, Sacramento City Council held a committee hearing on a
living wage proposal on November 19 and will bring the matter before the
full Council January 9.  ACORN and allies turned out 140 supporters for the
mid-day hearing and are canvassing key districts to build support.  They
plan a huge rally at 6 p.m. January 9.  For more information, contact Brian
Kettenring at caacornsaro at or 916-455-1795.

Norwalk, Conn., are holding protests and attending meetings to push for
adoption of inclusionary zoning regulations that would require that
developments include affordable units.  At a November 22 meeting with
municipal planners, private developers and affordable housing advocates,
ACORN member Diane Johnson urged quick action.  For more information, link
to or contact Jeff Ordower at
ctacorn at or 203-333-2676.

have now agreed to work with DC ACORN to draft inclusionary zoning
legislation to require that developers include affordable units.  ACORN
members testified at a recent Zoning Commission meeting.  ACORN is also
going after particular developers.  On Nov. 21, DC ACORN took over the
offices of Holladay Development Corp., which is converting an elderly care
facility on the edge of an ACORN neighborhood into 275 units of housing:
half rentals staring at $2,500/mo, and half condos starting at $300,000.
ACORN members had met a week earlier with two of Holladay's vice presidents
to demand that 30% of the project be set aside for families making $30,000
per year.  Holladay had said no.  For more information, contact Will Ward at
dcacorn at or 202-547-9292.

PHOTO: DC ACORN members took over the offices of Holladay Development Corp.

November 26, home daycare providers, members of the ACORN-organized American
Home Daycare Association, along with a group of children, stormed the
Maryland state headquarters of the Department of Human Resources and the
state Child Care Administration.  The group marched in chanting "Hey, Hey,
Ho, Ho! Late Paychecks Have Got to Go!", with the children shaking very
noisy rattles.  Members pushed passed security into the offices of the CCA
demanding to meet with its director in order to give her the "Turkey of the
Year" Award for her inability to fix the problem of continually late voucher
checks.  Members were threatened with arrest and screamed at, but stayed
strong until the deputy director came out and announced that the director
was on leave.  AHDA presented the deputy director with the award, a 7 lb.
turkey and an official certificate.  After much wrangling over whether she
could accept a "gift," the deputy director agreed to negotiate and brought
the head of DHR into the meeting.  After an hour of negotiating they agreed
to institute a direct deposit program state-wide, to meet with AHDA members
who had trouble with their paychecks and resolve problems immediately.  For
more information, contact Mitch Klein at mdacorn at or 410-752-2228.

members joined with labor and community allies, including SEIU Local 880, to
protest Wal-Mart's labor abuses.  ACORN took part in protests in Illinois,
Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.  For more information, contact Jen
Kern at natacorncam at or 617-740-9500.

14. CHICAGO DEMANDS IMPROVED POLICING - On November 7, Chicago ACORN members
held a protest rally at an Englewood intersection where a bullet had passed
through the car of Chicago ACORN President Denise Dixon while her
six-year-old son was sitting in the back seat..  In contrast to the
unprecedented number of police covering the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue
conference in the downtown area, on the South Side where violence was
erupting the Chicago Police were much harder to find.  ACORN demanded a
better police presence and faster response times.  Police representatives
agreed to attend the next ACORN community meeting.  For more information,
contact Madeline Talbott at ilacorn at or 312-939-7488.

PHOTO: Chicago ACORN President Denise Dixon (at right, in the green coat)
and her children lead a march in Englewood on Nov. 7, 2002, along with ACORN
members Melvin Starks and Lillian Buckley.

nine women from New York, all single mothers who had been on welfare, among
them ACORN member Linda Brown, traveled to Washington, D.C., to perform a
dramatic telling and singing of their travails and complaints with WEP, New
York's Work Experience Program.  Before 200 people in a U.S. Senate hearing
room, these women presented "Stand With Sisters for Economic Dignity," a
piece they developed with the National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support
at the Center for Community Change.  The NOW Legal Defense and Education
Fund cosponsored the event and released a report finding that 60 percent of
women on welfare have experienced domestic violence.  Sen. Patty Murray
(D-Wash.) and the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) also took part,
promoting Murray's "Safe and Healthy Families Act."  The women's lively and
honest telling of their painful stories had a powerful impact.  Ms. Magazine
has announced that they will be honored as "Ms. Women of the Year," for
2002.  The award will be presented by Gloria Steinem and President of the
Feminist Majority Elle Smeal in Washington on December 9.  For more
information, link to or contact Bertha Lewis at
nyacornbkro at or 718-246-7900.

16. PHILLY WINS LIBRARIAN AT MIDDLE SCHOOL -- On November 20th, Philadelphia
ACORN members marched on Gillespie Middle School (a school recently taken
over by the Edison Schools Corporation) to demand a librarian.  The library
had been closed down, with "Do Not Touch" signs on all the shelves.  Calls
to the school and the district went unanswered, so ACORN members marched two
blocks to the school and then took over and chanted and demanded to see the
principal.  The principal agreed to ACORN's demands, and the new librarian
started working the very next day.  Since then, the students have been able
to use the books and computers.  For more information, contact Ali Kronley
at paacorn at or 215-765-0042.

to have a majority in both houses of Congress, predatory lenders are likely
to push for a law banning state and local restrictions on abusive lending
practices.  Many states and localities have put carefully crafted laws in
place or are currently working on them.  All such laws would be thrown out.
Tell your Congress Members that they don't work for the loan sharks and must
not prevent states and localities from protecting their citizens.  Tell
Congress, instead, to learn from local efforts and restrict predatory
lending.  Predatory lenders -- including many mortgage companies and other
financial institutions -- prey on communities with a variety of aggressive
and deceptive practices.  These lenders charge borrowers interest rates well
above what the borrowers' credit records indicate they should receive and
load the loans down with a number of hidden fees.  Urge your Congress
Members to support and co-sponsor S. 2438 / HR 1051, which would take needed
steps to address the growing problem of predatory lending.  To easily
contact your Congress Members and the President in support of
ACORN's positions, link to

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: Then see this page
for more information and how to apply:


ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the
nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income
families, with over 120,000 member families organized into 600 neighborhood
chapters in 45 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

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