ACORN Annual Report 2003

colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Thu Jan 15 08:27:01 CST 2004


[ed:  I apologize for the length of this message, but since it provides a 
nice overview of one of the national organizing networks, I thought it 
would be of general interest.]

From:           	"Camellia Phillips" <acornnews at acorn.org>


ACORN News: Highlights of ACORN's Work in 2003ACORN
Accomplishments in 2003: 


            ·  ACORN Grows!

            ·  Predatory Lending 

            ·  Living Wages

            ·  Better Schools

            ·  Affordable Housing

            ·  Utilities

            ·  Environmental Justice

            ·  Immigrant Rights

            ·  Voter Registration and Civic Participation

            ·  Looking to 2004




            Highlights of ACORN's Work in 2003



            2003 was an exciting year for ACORN - marked by
            unprecedented growth, major breakthroughs in national
            campaigns, and successful local work around the
            country. To celebrate another year of organizing, we
            have assembled some of the highlights of ACORN's work
            in 2003 - from winning a settlement with Household to
            passing three new living and minimum wage laws to
            helping secure emergency LIHEAP funding. While 2003
            was an impressive year, ACORN has even bigger plans
            for 2004! 

            -- Maude Hurd, ACORN National President



            ACORN GROWS!


            In 2003, ACORN opened operations in 23 new cities,
            including four state capitals!  New cities where we
            are now organizing are: Glendale, Mesa, and Tucson
            (AZ); Fresno, Santa Ana, and Chula Vista (CA);
            Hartford (CT); Wilmington (DE); Tampa and Orlando
            (FL); Honolulu (HI); Indianapolis (IN); Kansas City
            (MO); Charlotte (NC);  Buffalo and Yonkers (NY);
            Cincinnati (OH); Allentown - Bethlehem (PA); and
            Alexandria (VA).  State capital offices were opened
            in Atlanta (GA), Springfield (IL), Columbus (OH), and
            Harrisburg (PA).









            PREDATORY LENDING


            ACORN AND HOUSEHOLD REACH SETTLEMENT 

            On November 25, 2003, ACORN and Household
            International, one of the largest subprime lenders in
            the country (now owned by HSBC Holdings), announced a
            proposed settlement of the national class action
            lawsuit that ACORN brought against the company in
            2002 as part of our multifaceted campaign against
            Household. The centerpiece of the settlement is a $72
            million Foreclosure Avoidance Program which will
            provide relief to Household borrowers who are behind
            on their payments and at risk of losing their homes.
            This follows an earlier $484 million settlement
            between Household and Attorneys General and Bank
            Regulators from all 50 states precipitated by ACORN's
            efforts to help hundreds of victims file formal
            complaints against the company. 



            TAKING ON WELLS FARGO







                  On September 17, over 100 ACORN members from
                  New Orleans, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston
                  protested at the Wells Fargo Plaza in downtown
                  Houston.

            In early 2003, ACORN kicked off our campaign against
            Wells Fargo's predatory lending practices. In May we
            released a study on the company, "Stop the Stage
            Coach! An Overview of Wells Fargo's Predatory
            Lending," and held actions at Wells offices in dozens
            of cities. ACORN members kept up pressure throughout
            the year with local and regional protests - including
            a "Shark Hunter Caravan" that traveled to six major
            California cities in November to warn people about
            Wells. On the regulatory front, ACORN challenged
            Wells' move to purchase a regional bank in Washington
            and Oregon and succeeded in getting the Federal
            Reserve to delay the merger in order to ask the
            company about predatory lending allegations. ACORN
            also met with officials at other federal agencies,
            including the OCC and the Federal Trade Commission,
            to discuss Wells' lending practices. ACORN also
            helped scores of borrowers to file formal complaints
            against the company with State Attorneys General and
            Bank Regulators. Wells has already made some notable
            changes in its lending practices - including reducing
            the cap of points and fees on loans from 10% to 4% -
            but the company has yet to make all the changes that
            ACORN is seeking. 



            LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES

            In 2003, ACORN played a leadership role in passing
            strong anti-predatory lending legislation in New
            Jersey and New Mexico. We also moved forward on
            legislation that is still pending in Massachusetts,
            played a key role in holding off an industry-backed
            bill in Arizona, and won some improvements in
            legislation passed in Arkansas. In Oakland the
            anti-predatory lending law we passed in 2001 was
            upheld in California's 1st District Court of Appeals.
            In 2003, ACORN's quick organizing response also
            played a critical role in stopping a measure proposed
            in the U.S. Congress by Rep. Bob Ney (R. Ohio) that
            would have preempted every state and local law in the
            country that protects borrowers against predatory
            lending. 



            FIGHTING LOCAL PREDATORY FINANCIAL SCAMS







                  ACORN member Denise Brantley was arrested
                  October 15 after spending the night in the home
                  she lost to a local real estate foreclosure
                  scam operation.





            In Minnesota, ACORN organized against local
            foreclosure rescue scam operations - companies that
            promised to save people from foreclosure by buying
            their homes and renting them back at what turned out
            to be unaffordable rates, often leading to people
            losing their homes. In May, Minnesota ACORN prevented
            the eviction of an 82-year-old widow, and in October
            ACORN held a sit-in to reclaim the house of ACORN
            member and grandmother Denise Brantley. In Paterson,
            NJ, ACORN got HUD and several other regulatory
            agencies to investigate a property flipping scam
            operation, Roselyn 2000. In Philadelphia, ACORN
            organized a campaign against check-cashing company
            Currency One, which charges high fees for services in
            low and moderate income neighborhoods. New York ACORN
            uncovered a predatory investing scam targeting
            low-income people, A & A Global resources, and moved
            the State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to launch an
            investigation. In Indianapolis, ACORN won a
            commitment from a mortgage lender to provide no-cost
            refinancing to homeowners facing foreclosure after
            being sold shoddily built homes at inflated prices,
            and with deceptive mortgage loan terms.





            LIVING WAGES


            In San Francisco, ACORN led a successful ballot
            initiative campaign to raise the citywide minimum
            wage to $8.50 per hour, with annual indexing. In
            Sacramento, following a nearly four-year campaign by
            ACORN, SEIU, and the Sacramento Central Labor
            Council, the City Council passed a living wage
            ordinance requiring companies with large city service
            contracts to pay $9.00 per hour with health benefits
            or $10.50 without. Following a six-month campaign by
            the Coalition to Reward Work, organized by ACORN,
            SEIU Local 880, and the Illinois AFL-CIO, Illinois
            became the first Midwestern state to increase the
            minimum wage when the State Legislature voted in May
            to raise the minimum wage to $5.50 in 2004 and $6.50
            in 2005. In a living wage related campaign, Paterson
            ACORN won a city ordinance requiring contractors on
            city-funded construction projects to hire local
            apprentices - opening hundreds of union construction
            careers to local workers. In November, ACORN's Living
            Wage Resource Center held the third National Living
            Wage Campaign Training Conference in Baltimore, MD.
            Over 100 living wage organizers and activists from 44
            different living wage campaigns explored ongoing and
            emerging issues in the living wage movement. 



            BETTER SCHOOLS


            In May, ACORN released a report revealing that a key
            component of the No Child Left Behind Act - putting a
            highly qualified teacher in every classroom - was not
            being enforced. In addition, in September ACORN
            members, parents, teachers and eleven of their
            Congressional representatives came together in their
            communities to hold back-to-school events to
            highlight the need for full funding for NCLB. In
            Oakland, San Diego, Boston, and New York State, ACORN
            brought together parents, students, teachers unions
            and others to successfully prevent major education
            budget cuts. Notably, in New York ACORN and our
            allies passed a statewide tax increase on upper
            income taxpayers in order to pay for the education
            budget - overriding the governor's veto of the
            measure. In 2003, ACORN also expanded our
            collaboration with teachers unions, including
            entering into a formal partnership with the NEA,
            working closely with the AFT, and running joint
            campaigns with teachers unions in Albuquerque,
            Boston, California, Chicago, Philadelphia and New
            York City. ACORN also helped create a number of
            innovative programs to increase the quality of
            teaching in our schools. In the South Bronx, New York
            ACORN helped create the Community Collaborative to
            Improve District 9 Schools which increased access to
            educational resources for District 9 schools. In
            Chicago, ACORN is developing a "Grow Your Own"
            program which helps teacher's aides and other support
            personnel become fully certified teachers. In
            Philadelphia, ACORN and the Philadelphia Federation
            of Teachers implemented the "ACORN to Oaks" teacher
            coaching and retention program. In Louisiana, ACORN
            worked with allies to defeat a school voucher
            proposal at the state legislature. 



            AFFORDABLE HOUSING


            In Jersey City, NJ, ACORN and the Jersey City
            Affordable Housing Coalition passed a linkage
            ordinance in the City Council requiring all
            developers who receive tax abatements to contribute
            funds to an affordable housing trust fund. In
            Minneapolis, MN, ACORN won approval from the City
            Council to create an affordable housing trust fund.
            In California, ACORN organized tenants to
            successfully push for passage of Assembly Bill 647,
            which provides renters statewide with the means to
            force landlords to make needed repairs without fear
            of eviction. In Los Angeles, Washington DC, Norwalk,
            CT, and Chicago, ACORN organized to push for
            affordable housing policies like inclusionary zoning,
            and in New York City ACORN won the introduction of
            three ACORN-developed affordable housing bills in the
            City Council. 



            UTILITIES


            In early 2003, ACORN members organized protests and
            press conferences around the country to successfully
            pressure the President to release $200 million in
            emergency funding for the Low Income Heating
            Assistance Program (LIHEAP). In addition, in November
            Rhode Island ACORN and Governor Donald Carcieri
            announced the creation and funding of a special
            utility restoration fund to assist LIHEAP-eligible
            Rhode Islanders whose gas or electricity have been
            disconnected but who owe more than LIHEAP can
            provide. In Delaware, ACORN members delayed a 15.9%
            gas rate increase by the state's major utilities
            provider Conectiv, and won negotiations with the
            company around demands for a Percentage of Income
            Program and no shutoffs in the wintertime. New
            Orleans ACORN prevented the privatization of the
            city's water supply. Illinois ACORN supported
            legislation passed by the state legislature stopping
            shutoffs for LIHEAP-eligible customers during the
            winter months. 



            ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE 


            In 2003, New Orleans and Baltimore ACORN continued
            their innovative childhood lead poisoning prevention
            programs, conducting dust wipe sampling in over 450
            high risk homes to identify lead hazards and
            organizing lead-safe trainings for hundreds of
            low-income families. In Baltimore, ACORN also won
            clean-up of over 200 units and forced two landlords
            into settlements with the state for lead violations,
            including substantial fines. In New Orleans the
            ACORN-led Environmental Roundtable won an agreement
            with the City of New Orleans to require city-funded
            groups to conduct lead education and began a campaign
            to pass a Universal Testing Ordinance for children in
            high-risk areas. Los Angeles ACORN and the United
            Teachers of Los Angeles won increased monitoring of
            emissions from a chrome plating plant located across
            the street from the 28th Street Elementary School.
            St. Louis ACORN won greater public input and
            participation in the regional transit authority's
            policy process after the transit authority tried to
            propose service cuts without adequate public input.
            Around the country, thousands of ACORN members also
            participated in the third annual ACORN National Clean
            Up Day, joining with their neighbors and others to
            increase the health and safety of their
            neighborhoods. 



            IMMIGRANT RIGHTS






                  Seattle ACORN member and Freedom Rider Octavia
                  Guerrero and DC ACORN member Edra Derricks
                  participated in the Immigrant Workers Freedom
                  Ride Lobby Day in Washington DC on October 2. 

            In the fall of 2003, ACORN members played an active
            role in the historic Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride.
            15 ACORN members from Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles,
            St. Paul, MN, Chicago, Orlando and Phoenix rode the
            Freedom Ride buses, while ACORN members in Little
            Rock, Phoenix, Chicago, Columbus, New York,
            Minneapolis, Orlando, New Orleans and other cities
            participated in kick-off and welcoming events. At the
            Ride's final event, a 100,000 person rally in Queens,
            New York, ACORN president Maude Hurd spoke along with
            other civil rights leaders. 



            VOTER REGISTRATION AND CIVIC PARTICIPATION


            Kicking off our campaign to register 900,000 voters
            before the 2004 election, in 2003 ACORN worked with
            Project Vote to register 87,627 new voters around the
            country - including 16,138 in the Twin Cities, MN,
            10,973 in Kansas City, MO, and 7,869 in Portland, OR.
            



            ACORN also ran or participated in a number of
            critical ballot initiative campaigns. In Maricopa
            County, including Phoenix, ACORN worked with SEIU to
            mobilize voters to approve Proposition 414 which
            saved the county hospital from closure. In
            Albuquerque, ACORN moved voters to reject a road bond
            that excluded a fast-growing ACORN neighborhood from
            improvements funded by the bond. In Kansas City,
            ACORN contacted and turned out voters to approve
            Question 1, preserving Saturday night and Sunday bus
            service. ACORN also contributed to larger campaigns
            in New York City and California - in New York, voters
            rejected the mayor's Question 3 which would have
            instituted nonpartisan elections in the city, and in
            California voters voted down Proposition 54, which
            would have prevented state or local government bodies
            from collecting or analyzing race information.
            Despite dedicated organizing efforts, in Seattle and
            in Cotati, CA, two ballot initiative campaigns run by
            ACORN were narrowly defeated. In Seattle, ACORN led a
            campaign to convert the Seattle City Council to a
            district as opposed to at-large system, and in the
            Northern California town of Cotati, ACORN ran the
            field component of a campaign to prevent big box
            development in the vicinity.



            LOOKING TO 2004


            2004 promises to be an important year for ACORN,
            including: 

                 ACORN's 34th Anniversary National Convention to
                 be held in Los Angeles, June 26-28  Major voter
                 registration and GOTV campaigns in battleground
                 states with Project Vote as we head towards
                 November  Expanding our predatory lending
                 campaign to improve the practices of more
                 subprime lenders  Fighting the selling of
                 high-cost "Refund Anticipation Loans" in our
                 communities by companies like H&R Block  Helping
                 more low-income families receive the Earned
                 Income Tax Credit  Running campaigns to pass
                 more state and city living wage and minimum wage
                 increases, including the statewide minimum wage
                 ballot initiative campaign Florida ACORN is
                 spearheading  Organizing to win more federal
                 funding for schools in our communities  Hundreds
                 of local campaigns in ACORN neighborhoods and
                 cities  Opening new ACORN offices in 20
                 additional cities! 







            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/?4 or contact Steve Kest at
            natexdirect at acorn.org or 718-246-7900.



            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.



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

            To subscribe to ACORN's Email list go to
            http://acorn.org/?52 

            To unsubscribe go to http://acorn.org/?1168 





            Camellia Phillips 

            ACORN - Association of Community Organizations for
            Reform Now 88 3rd Ave, Floor 3 Brooklyn, NY 11217 

            phone: 718-246-7900 x227
            fax: 718-246-7939
            acornnews at acorn.org 

            http://www.acorn.org





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