ACORN News July 9, 2003

colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Fri Jul 11 16:22:06 CDT 2003


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

ACORN News
July 9, 2003

1. San Francisco Puts Minimum Wage on Ballot
2. ACORN Urges Fed and OCC to Crack Down on Wells Fargo
3. ACORN Helps Wells Fargo's Victims
4. Philadelphia Creates Fair Lending Program
5. ACORN Fights for Child Tax Credit
6. Los Angeles Fights for Affordable Housing
7. Chicago Releases Report on Teacher Turnover
8. Philly Supports School Funding
9. Philly Repairs Rec. Center
10. Pine Bluff Rallies for a Living Wage
11. Seattle Launches Campaign to Redistrict City
12. Rhode Island Fights for Utility Relief Plan
13. NY Introduces Affordable Housing Legislation
14. Contra Costa Fights Big Box Development
15. Norwalk Demands Inclusionary Zoning
16. San Jose Supports Driver's Licenses for Immigrants
17. Bronx Rehabilitates Neighborhood
18. Baltimore Conducts Tour of Shame
19. Denver Works for Community Benefits Agreement
20. DC Demands Local Hiring
TAKE ACTION: Restore Child Tax Credit!
TAKE ACTION: No to Pre-Certification for EITC!

1. SAN FRANCISCO PUTS MINIMUM WAGE ON BALLOT - San 
Francisco ACORN, together with labor and community allies in the 
"$6.75 Is Not Enough" coalition, on July 7 turned in over 20,000 
signatures in an attempt to put an initiative on the ballot in 
November that would create a city-wide minimum wage standard of 
$8.50.  The city must determine that at least 10,000 signatures are 
valid for the initiative to go on the ballot.  San Francisco would 
become the third city in the country, after Washington D.C. and 
Santa Fe, to put in place a minimum wage law covering virtually all 
businesses. California's current minimum wage is $6.75.  The 
national minimum wage is $5.15.  If the national minimum wage 
had kept pace with inflation since the late 1960s, it would now be 
approximately $8.50. ACORN and allies collected the signatures in 
two weeks of intense canvassing.  For more information, link to 
http://www.acorn.org/acorn10/livingwage/reports.htm or contact 
John Eller at caacornsfro at acorn.org or 415-725-9869.  

2. ACORN URGES FED AND OCC TO CRACK DOWN ON 
WELLS FARGO - Between June 23 and 27, ACORN members in 
21 cities held protests against predatory lending at branches of 
Wells Fargo and, in most cases, delivered letters to offices of the 
Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the 
Currency urging both agencies to investigate and crack down on 
Wells Fargo's abuses.  In Philadelphia, ACORN members, led by a 
member in a shark suit, drove a stagecoach to the Wells Fargo 
protest.  The OCC's senior staff has now agreed to meet with 
ACORN on this issue.  ACORN is urging the Federal Reserve to 
hold hearings on Wells Fargo's proposed acquisition of Pacific 
Northwest Bancorp.  ACORN's letters to the OCC and the Federal 
Reserve are available online.  For more information, link to 
http://www.acorn.org/campaigns/wellsfargo or contact Lisa Donner 
at acorncampaign at acorn.org or 718-246-7900.  

PHOTO: Minnesota ACORN Protested Wells Fargo's predatory 
lending on June 25. http://www.acorn.org/photos/gallery.php?p=586  

PHOTO: ACORN members in Prince George's County, Md., and 
Washington, D.C., protested Wells Fargo's predatory lending on 
June 27. http://www.acorn.org/photos/gallery.php?p=593  

3. ACORN HELPS WELLS FARGO'S VICTIMS -- ACORN's 
national campaign to reform Wells Fargo's predatory lending is 
beginning to bear fruit for individual borrowers.  After filing their 
complaints with state regulators and participating in ACORN 
actions at a Wells office, a New Mexico family has been refunded 
$3,982 in fees they had paid when Wells had refinanced them 
twice in less than 12 months.  A senior in Los Angeles who was in 
danger of losing her house has had her fees reduced by $10,401 
and her interest rate lowered from 10 percent to 8.0 percent.  
ACORN Housing offices around the country have helped Wells 
Fargo victims refinance with other companies.  A couple in St. 
Paul, Minn., refinanced at 5.3 percent out of a Wells Fargo loan at 
10.0 percent, lowering their payments by over $400 per month.  A 
couple in Minneapolis who had been repeatedly refinanced by 
Wells Fargo and had received loans at 14.1 percent, 14.7 percent, 
and 12.0 percent, was able to refinance with another lender at 7.3 
percent, reducing their monthly payment by $800.  These victims of 
predatory lending are ready to keep working on this campaign until 
no one else is preyed upon by Wells Fargo. For more information, 
link to http://www.acorn.org/campaigns/wellsfargo or contact Lisa 
Donner at acorncampaign at acorn.org or 718-246-7900.  

4. PHILADELPHIA CREATES FAIR LENDING PROGRAM --On 
June 30, after almost two years of hard work, ACORN, ACORN 
Housing, the City of Philadelphia, City Councilwoman Marian 
Tasco, the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, the 
Homeownership Counseling Association of Delaware Valley, and 
eight Philadelphia banks announced new, groundbreaking 
programs to answer the home improvement needs of low- and 
moderate-income homeowners. The programs offer both 
unsecured and secured loan products to borrowers with impaired 
credit in need of financing for emergency and non-emergency 
home improvements.  The program is intended to help borrowers 
avoid predatory lenders by offering them a reasonable alternative.  
For more information, contact Ali Kronley at paacorn at acorn.org or 
215-765-0042.  

PHOTO: Left to right are: Sharmain Matlock Turner, 
President/Executive Director Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs 
Coalition; City Councilwoman Marian Tasco; Allison Hughes, 
Homeownership Counseling Association of the Delaware Valley; 
Brenda LaRoche, Deputy Regional Director, HUD; Michelle Lewis, 
President Northwest Counseling Service; unidentified participant; 
Carol Hemmingway, President Philadelphia ACORN; and Patricia 
Smith, Director of the City of Philadelphia's Neighborhood 
Transformation Initiative. 
http://www.acorn.org/photos/gallery.php?p=594  

5. ACORN FIGHTS FOR CHILD TAX CREDIT - Over the past two 
weeks, ACORN members have held events and protests around 
the country to force Congress to reinstate the child tax credit for 
lower income families, which was quietly taken out of the most 
recent tax cut bill at the last moment.  The House and the Senate 
have passed competing child tax credit proposals. The House bill 
would cost $82 billion to address this $3.5 billion problem. Only 4 
percent of the House bill would go to the 12 million children left out 
of the first tax cut.  The Republican leadership in the House is 
refusing to move the Senate version forward.  On June 30, ACORN 
members in Tampa, together with Florida Consumer Action 
Network, demonstrated at a George W. Bush fundraiser, 
demanding that he strongly urge his party to act. Bush held a 
fundraiser in Miami on the same day, and ACORN was there to 
protest as well.  Also on the same day, in Chicago, ACORN 
members participated in a rally with Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi 
and Jan Schakowsky. On July 7, ACORN members in Albuquerque 
took part in a rally with Congressman Tom Udall.  For more 
information, link to http://www.acorn.org/acorn10/takeaction.htm or 
contact Rachel Burrows at rburrows at acorn.org or 202-547-2500.  

6. LOS ANGELES FIGHTS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING - On 
June 28, over 200 ACORN members attended a forum to present a 
"City of Los Angeles Housing Platform" to two City Council 
Members and other city staff.  The platform included more money 
for city-run homeownership programs, vigorous enforcement of the 
city's anti-predatory lending law (pending resolution of an industry 
lawsuit), vigorous enforcement of the City's tenant protection laws, 
a new "Three Strikes You're Out" law that would allow the City to 
remove the properties of repeat offender slumlords, and a strong, 
mandatory, citywide inclusionary zoning law.  Part of the Forum 
was focused on the City Attorney, who in ACORN members' 
opinions has failed to adequately enforce anti-slum housing laws.  
He did not attend or send a representative, and members have an 
escalating campaign planned to pressure him to make significant 
changes.  

ACORN is continuing to oppose moves in Congress to block-grant, 
and ultimately reduce, Section 8 housing vouchers.  Los Angeles 
ACORN leader Rean Wilkerson spoke on July 1 at a field hearing 
with Congresswoman Maxine Waters.  Los Angeles ACORN has 
also set up a follow-up meeting with landlords and is working with 
landlords, banks, and Rep. Waters to provide low- or no-cost loans 
to landlords to allow them to make improvements necessary to 
comply with Section 8.  For more information, contact John 
Jackson at caacornccro at acorn.org or 213-747-4211.  

7. CHICAGO RELEASES REPORT ON TEACHER TURNOVER - 
On June 26, Chicago ACORN released a report entitled "Where 
Have All the Teachers Gone: The Costs of Teacher Turnover in 
ACORN Neighborhood Schools in Chicago."  The much-discussed 
teacher shortage problem in Chicago's public schools, according to 
the ACORN research, is actually a problem of teacher retention. 
Extending ACORN's one-year turnover findings over five years, 
ACORN predicts that almost three-quarters of the newly hired first-
year teachers of 2001 will be gone by the end of their fifth year.  
Chicago ACORN proposes a number of solutions to the teacher 
turnover problem in these schools, including "Grow-Your-Own" 
teacher training, lead teacher and learning community / co-teacher 
programs, teacher home visits and other neighborhood 
involvement efforts, extended-day opportunities for teachers to 
share problem-solving strategies, and increasing teacher pay and 
benefits.  For more information, link to 
http://acorn.org/acorn10/betterschools/releases/cat.htm or contact 
Madeline Talbott at ilacorn at acorn.org or 312-939-7488.  

8. PHILLY SUPPORTS SCHOOL FUNDING - Philadelphia 
ACORN members have traveled to the state capitol in Harrisburg 
in May and June to join with allies in supporting the Governor's 
proposed budget, which provides an additional $150 million to 
Philadelphia schools, as well as state-wide increases in Early 
Education initiatives.  In Philadelphia, ACORN members are 
raising concerns over the Edison corporation's failure to address 
serious safety problems caused by disruptive and often violent 
students. And ACORN is working with Support Service Aides and 
promoting a "Grow-Your-Own" initiative to train aides to become 
teachers.  For more information, contact Debbie Russell Brown at 
paacornph at acorn.org or 215-765-0042.  

9. PHILLY REPAIRS REC. CENTER - A new ACORN chapter in 
the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia has come out 
swinging.  At a recent protest to demand repairs to the Happy 
Hollow Recreation Center, ACORN members blocked traffic in 
front of Happy Hollow with a kiddie pool.  Kids played in the pool 
while parents and supporters marched, chanted, and blocked 
traffic. Meanwhile, other ACORN members took the District 
Supervisor on a tour of the center.  The Recreation Department put 
up new swings that very day and agreed to a long list of other 
repairs, improvements, and maintenance.  The same chapter has 
also won new traffic lights at an intersection in front of a school 
where a child was hit by a car.  For more information, contact Ali 
Kronley at paacorn at acorn.org or 215-765-0042.  

10. PINE BLUFF RALLIES FOR A LIVING WAGE - On June 21, 
Pine Bluff, Ark., ACORN held a 100-person rally in a Food King 
parking lot to drum up support for a living wage ordinance to be 
introduced in the City Council this month. The ordinance would 
apply to direct city employees, workers on city service contracts, 
and workers at companies receiving economic development 
money. The wage minimum would be set at $8.75, or $10.00 if no 
health benefits are provided.  For more information, contact Neil 
Sealy at aracorn at acorn.org or 501-376-7151.  

11. SEATTLE LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO REDISTRICT CITY - 
Seattle ACORN and allies have begun gathering signatures to 
change the Seattle City Council from a body of nine members each 
elected at large to a districted city council with each member 
representing one of nine districts.  Currently, it takes fewer votes to 
be elected to the Washington State Legislature than to be elected 
to Seattle City Council.  The average cost of an election is 
$200,000.  For low- and moderate-income families, this means it is 
nearly impossible to influence elections, to elect residents of their 
neighborhoods, or to hold officials accountable on local issues. 
ACORN and allies must collect approximately 25,000 signatures by 
mid-July to put this proposal on the November 2003 ballot.  
ACORN is working with a coalition of progressive activists, elected 
officials, labor unions, churches, and community councils.  
Supporters include: Belltown Community Council, Yes for Seattle, 
SAGE (Seattle Alliance for Good Jobs and Housing for Everyone), 
HERE Local 8, Ballard Chamber of Commerce, Magnolia Chamber 
of Commerce, Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, and several 
City Council members and state legislators. For more information, 
link to http://www.acorn.org/campaigns/pc.php?p=2446 or contact 
Jenny Lawson at waacorn at acorn.org or 206-723-5845.  

12. RHODE ISLAND FIGHTS FOR UTILITY RELIEF PLAN -- 
Rhode Island ACORN, working with consumer advocacy 
organizations, state agencies, and utility companies over the past 
18 months, has developed a plan that, if implemented, would make 
energy bills more affordable.  The Public Utilities Commission has 
agreed to have a hearing on this proposal, Docket 3400, after a 
series of protests, press events, and testimonies about the 
importance of the plan.  Over 100 ACORN members will turn out to 
testify and show support for the plan in a series of four public 
hearings that will take place over the next several weeks.  If 
implemented, the plan would aid families with low incomes by 
providing discounted electricity or gas service and allowing for a 
one-time forgiveness of past debts to the utility companies.  Among 
the groups that have worked on this plan are the George Wiley 
Center, Narragansett Electric, New England Gas, the Public 
Utilities Commission, the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, 
the Energy Office, and the National Consumer Law Center.  For 
more information, contact David Lagstein at riacorn at acorn.org or 
401-780-0500.  

13. NY INTRODUCES AFFORDABLE HOUSING LEGISLATION -- 
On June 25, Brooklyn and Bronx ACORN members rallied on the 
steps of New York City Hall in support of three bills promoted by 
the ACORN-led Coalition to Create Affordable Housing.  The first 
bill would require that land sold at public auction be developed to 
include affordable housing.  The second bill would require city 
agencies to submit reports concerning which income groups are 
receiving housing through the City's programs.  The third bill would 
change affordability guidelines in City programs to be based on the 
New York City median income rather than the Area Median 
Income, which includes the higher incomes of Westchester, 
Putnam, and Rockland Counties.  For more information link to 
http://www.acorn.org/acorn10/affordablehousing/reports.htm or 
contact Tanisha Christe at nyacornpol at acorn.org or 718-246-7900.  

14. CONTRA COSTA FIGHTS BIG BOX DEVELOPMENT -- 
ACORN and a broad coalition of senior, community, religious, and 
labor allies are fighting to protect an anti-"big box" ordinance that 
limits large-scale retail commercial development in unincorporated 
areas in Contra Costa County, Calif.  The ordinance was passed 
last month by the County Board of Supervisors to limit traffic, 
congestion, and unplanned growth.  In response, Wal-Mart hired a 
professional firm to gather signatures to place a referendum on the 
ballot to overturn the ordinance.  ACORN and allies led what 
company officials described as the strongest and most well-
organized opposition campaign to a referendum they have 
encountered in any part of the country. Despite this, paid signature 
gathering prevailed, and the coalition is now preparing for a county-
wide voter education and mobilization effort on the referendum in 
March 2004.  For more information, link to 
http://www.acorn.org/campaigns/pc.php?p=2466 or contact Doug 
Bloch at caacornsc at acorn.org or 510-436-5690.  

15. NORWALK DEMANDS INCLUSIONARY ZONING - On June 
19 ACORN members in Norwalk, Conn., took over the Mayor's 
office, where they demanded to be present at the table while 
inclusionary zoning legislation is drafted. This was the latest 
escalation in a campaign that produced a public forum with five 
City Council Members on March 12, four of whom agreed to 
support ACORN's inclusionary zoning principles.  ACORN is 
demanding that 20 to 30 percent of developments be made 
affordable to low- and moderate-income families.  ACORN met 
with the Mayor in May to demand that he include ACORN in the 
discussions and decisions as the ordinance is drafted.  He has not 
yet agreed to that demand, and ACORN will continue to increase 
the pressure. For more information, contact Heather Partlow at 
ctacorn at acorn.org or 203-333-2676.  

16. SAN JOSE SUPPORTS DRIVER'S LICENSES FOR 
IMMIGRANTS - On June 24, San Jose ACORN members, 
including 20 undocumented immigrants, spoke at a City Council 
meeting in favor of a resolution that supports a state bill (SB 60) 
that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's 
licenses. The resolution supporting the bill passed by a vote of 9 to 
2.  For more information, contact Derecka Mehrens at 
caacornsjro at acorn.org or 408-293-1520.  

17. BRONX REHABILITATES NEIGHBORHOOD - From June 26 
to 28, Bronx ACORN and allies held a conference to conclude a 
successful seven-year effort to rehabilitate neighborhoods through 
a program called the Neighborhood Partners Initiative.  During the 
past seven years ACORN successfully encouraged growth and 
neighborhood development in a five-block area of Mott Haven, 
between 139th and 141st Streets, and between Alexander and 
Brooke Streets.  ACORN empowered people in the area, forced 
landlords to make repairs, helped create new construction, won 
improvements in the schools, organized tenants unions, forced the 
city to reopen the local library and implement library programs.  
ACORN worked extensively with the local police precinct to reduce 
crime and prostitution.  And ACORN hired 11 young adults to tutor 
kids at the local church.  For more information, contact Heather 
Appel at nyacornbrx at acorn.org or 718-246-7900.  

18. BALTIMORE CONDUCTS TOUR OF SHAME - On July 3, a 
bus full of Baltimore ACORN members led city officials on a "Tour 
of Shame" through the blighted neighborhoods of Southwest 
Baltimore and Rosemont.  After touring streets of rundown houses, 
abandoned lots, and streets with no speed bumps or other traffic 
control measures, ACORN members visited a luxurious mansion 
with marble steps on a one-way street with speed bumps, the home 
of City Council Member Agnes Welch, who refused to come out 
and meet with her neighbors. ACORN members and allies in CLUB 
passed a ballot initiative last Fall to redistrict the City Council and 
produce more accountability through smaller single-member 
districts.  The primary is on September 9.  

Baltimore's newest ACORN chapter, in the Brooklyn neighborhood 
of South Baltimore, has organized tenants at the Baybrook Park 
apartments and convinced the landlord to sign an agreement to 
make all 170 units lead-safe in 30 days.  He has also improved 
maintenance and repairs as a result of ACORN's organizing.  For 
more information, contact Mitch Klein at mdacorn at acorn.org or 
410-752-2228.  

19. DENVER WORKS FOR COMMUNITY BENEFITS 
AGREEMENT - Denver ACORN and labor, community, and 
religious allies in the Campaign for Responsible Development 
coalition are fighting for improvements in the city's urban renewal 
plan to require that companies benefiting from public subsidies 
provide living wage jobs and other benefits to the community.  On 
June 16, the coalition packed City Hall and won City approval of a 
change in zoning restrictions banning any business over 7,500 
square feet from selling more than 12 percent nontaxable items, 
such as groceries.  This prevents the creation of mega-big-box 
stores that include supermarkets.  The coalition is negotiating with 
a major developer that is receiving public subsidies and will urge 
the city to approve any agreements reached.  ACORN's and allies' 
demands include: living wage jobs, affordable housing, first-source 
hiring for surrounding communities, and investment in parks, 
lighting, and schools. For more information, contact Bret Ericson at 
coacorn at acorn.org or 303-393-0773.  

20. DC DEMANDS LOCAL HIRING - Washington, D.C., ACORN 
has held two large meetings in the South East neighborhood of 
Congress Heights, on June 24 and July 7, to demand that a major 
developer fulfill its obligations under federal law (HUD regulations 
Section 3) and D.C. first-source hiring law, which require that 
developers of publicly funded projects hire locally and establish an 
apprenticeship program for community residents.  Mid-City Urban, 
the largest developer of public housing and the largest private 
owner of publicly subsidized housing in D.C., is under contract with 
the D.C. Housing Authority to develop the Henson Ridge project in 
South East, a $29 million HOPE VI project that is also receiving $8 
million in DC tax exempt bonds.  City Council Member Harold 
Brazil co-hosted the second meeting.  For more information, 
contact Will Ward at dcacorn at acorn.org or 202-547-9292.  

TAKE ACTION: RESTORE CHILD TAX CREDIT - The House and 
the Senate have passed competing child tax credit proposals.  The 
House bill would cost $82 billion to address this $3.5 billion 
problem.  Only 4 percent of the House bill would go to the 12 
million children left out of the first tax cut.  The Republican 
leadership in the House is refusing to move the Senate version 
forward.  This stalemate would effectively kill the effort to provide 
the child tax credit for low-income working families.  Please urge 
the House Republican leadership to pass a child tax credit that will 
help children in low-income working families.  And urge the 
President to pressure Congress to get the job done.  Click to write 
your Congress Members and the President: 
http://www.acorn.org/acorn10/takeaction.htm  

TAKE ACTION: NO TO PRE-CERTIFICATION FOR EITC -- The 
Internal Revenue Service has proposed major changes, beginning 
August 2003, in the application procedures for the Earned Income 
Tax Credit.  Many EITC claimants raising a child would be required 
to "pre-certify" their eligibility by proving that the child lived with 
them for more than half of the year.  The IRS has put its proposal 
out for public comments. Comments must be submitted by July 14, 
2003, to be considered before a proposed pre-certification pilot test 
involving 45,000 filers begins in August.  The proposal would apply 
requirements to low-income tax filers that wealthy individuals and 
corporations do not face, and could ultimately make it more difficult 
for several million low-income families to receive the credit. Click 
to write to Treasury Secretary John Snow to oppose this proposal: 
http://www.acorn.org/acorn10/takeaction.htm  

ORGANIZER TRAINING PLANNED -- ACORN is currently 
accepting applications for three-day academies in Tampa and 
Orlando.  Training will include seminars on community organizing, 
fundraising, and leadership development, breakout groups focusing 
on campaign planning and implementation, readings from Alinsky, 
Chavez, and others, guest instructors from local labor, community, 
and activist organizations, and participation in community 
organizing campaigns and actions.  Lodging is provided. Spaces 
are limited. Applicants should be seeking full-time jobs as activist, 
community, labor, or political organizers.  For more information and 
to apply, link to http://acorn.org/getinvolved/organizer.html.  

DONATE TO ACORN -- Membership dues and chapter-based 
fundraising programs pay for 75 percent of ACORN's budget. But 
ACORN also needs financial support from non-member allies, 
people who do not live in neighborhoods with ACORN chapters but 
who support the work ACORN is doing. For more information, link 
to http://acorn.org/donate or contact Steve Kest at 
natexdirect at acorn.org or (718) 246-7900.  

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

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform 
Now, is the nation's largest community organization of low- and 
moderate-income families, with over 150,000 member families 
organized into 700 neighborhood chapters in 51 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.  

Please forward this message in order to build this list.  

Check out ACORN's website at http://www.acorn.org.

To subscribe to ACORN's Email list go to 
http://acorn.org/getinvolved/



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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