ACORN News November 25, 2003

colist at colist at
Fri Nov 28 14:51:32 CST 2003

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

From:           	"Camellia Phillips" <acornnews at>

            Voter Registration Update: ACORN Registers 73,000
            Voters Since July 2003 

            1. ACORN and Household Reach Settlement in Class
            Action Lawsuit 

            2. Rhode Island Wins Utilities Assistance Program 

            3. ACORN Chapters Protest Proposed LIHEAP Cuts 

            4. "Shark Hunter Caravan" Warns Californians about
            Wells' Predatory Lending 

            5. New York Rallies for Affordable Housing 

            6. Minnesota Wins Temporary Shut-down of Mortgage
            Foreclosure Scam Artist 

            7. Seattle Saves Crossing Guards 

            8. Philadelphia Introduces City Resolution against
            Refund Anticipation Loans 

            9. Third National Living Wage Conference a Success 

            10. ACORN and MoveOn Release TV Ad Criticizing Bush
            Economic Policies 

            11. Cincinnati ACORN Opens

                  ACORN News November 25, 2003

                  73,000 VOTERS SINCE JULY 2003

                  As we move into 2004, ACORN, with the
                  assistance of Project Vote, is spearheading a
                  massive voter registration, voter education,
                  and get-out-the-vote project in critically
                  important states all across the nation.  Since
                  July 2003, ACORN has already registered 73,684
                  voters in low and moderate income, African
                  American and Latino neighborhoods. Several
                  ACORN offices have already topped 5,000
                  registrations, including:

                    a.. Twin Cities, MN with 13,845 
                    b.. Kansas City, MO with 10,473 
                    c.. Portland, OR with 6,431 
                    d.. Miami, FL with 5,779
                  ACTION LAWSUIT

                  ACORN and Household International Inc., now
                  owned by HSBC Holdings, announced November 25
                  that they have reached a proposed settlement of
                  a national class action lawsuit brought against
                  the company by ACORN in 2002. The centerpiece
                  of the settlement is a $72 million Foreclosure
                  Avoidance Program (FAP) which will provide
                  relief to Household borrowers who are
                  delinquent on their payments and at risk of
                  losing their homes. Components of the program
                  include: interest rate reductions, waivers of
                  unpaid late charges, deferral of accrued unpaid
                  interest, and loan principal reductions. ACORN
                  President Maude Hurd commented that ACORN is
                  "especially pleased that this program will help
                  families stay in their homes, and preserve all
                  they have poured into them." The settlement
                  follows a three-year campaign by ACORN to
                  change Household's lending practices, and a
                  $484 million settlement earlier this year
                  between Household and a group of State
                  Attorneys General initiated by ACORN's work
                  with Household victims to file formal
                  complaints. For more information, contact Lisa
                  Donner at acorncampaign at or


                        Rhode Island ACORN members and Governor
                        Donald Carcieri announced the creation of
                        a special utility restoration fund for
                        low-income consumers at a November 19
                        press conference.

                  On November 19, Rhode Island ACORN members and
                  Governor Donald Carcieri held a press
                  conference to announce the creation and funding
                  of a special utility restoration fund. The fund
                  will provide assistance to Rhode Islanders
                  whose gas or electricity have been disconnected
                  and are eligible for LIHEAP, but who owe more
                  in bills and fees for service restoration than
                  LIHEAP can provide. ACORN members have been
                  working to win a utilities assistance program
                  in the state for the last three years. This
                  summer, ACORN leaders turned out over 250
                  residents to hearings on a proposed "affordable
                  energy bargain" which the Public Utilities
                  Commission sent back to its working group for
                  revision earlier this fall. ACORN also held a
                  series of meetings with the State Attorney
                  General and the governor, organized a candle
                  light vigil at the home of Southern Union Gas
                  Co.'s CEO, the parent company of New England
                  Gas Co., and held an action at the main office
                  of New England Gas Co. demanding assistance for
                  low-income families. The new utility
                  restoration fund will help hundreds of families
                  restore their heat for winter, and represents
                  the first step in creating a long term
                  affordable energy solution for low and moderate
                  income Rhode Island residents. For more
                  information, contact Aimee Olin at
                  riacorn at or 410-780-0500.


                  ACORN members in Missouri, Delaware, Rhode
                  Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania are
                  protesting the House Republican Leaderships'
                  attempts to cut LIHEAP (Low Income Heating
                  Assistance Program) funding by almost $300
                  million. In these cities, ACORN members have
                  been taking over Republican offices and
                  demanding that officials fax letters to House
                  Majority Leader Tom Delay and Labor-HHS and
                  Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chair
                  Ralph Regula asking that they include $2
                  billion for LIHEAP in the omnibus
                  appropriations bill.  Last year, states had
                  approximately $2 billion available to serve
                  low-income families. Any lower amount this year
                  would directly affect access to utilities for
                  working families, seniors, and disabled
                  individuals. For more information, contact
                  Rachel Burrows at rburrows at or

                  WELLS' PREDATORY LENDING

                  From November 17-19, ACORN members traveled the
                  state of California as part of the "Shark
                  Hunter Caravan" to warn borrowers about the
                  predatory lending practices of Wells Fargo. The
                  caravan traveled to six major California cities
                  - San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose,
                  Sacramento and San Francisco - to join local
                  residents in protests outside of Wells offices.
                  Over 200 community members attended the rallies
                  in six cities, delivering a strong message to
                  their elected officials and the State Attorney
                  General regarding Wells' practices. Protesters
                  included ACORN members and Wells victims
                  dressed in shark suits, flyers about Wells'
                  predatory lending, vans decorated with shark
                  fins, giant blow-up shark awards, and chants
                  such as "Wells Fargo - Predatory Lender,
                  Criminal Offender." Earlier in the month, on
                  November 14, ACORN members in Albuquerque
                  kicked off the caravan with a protest at a
                  Wells office in an ACORN neighborhood. For more
                  information, please contact Lisa Donner at
                  acorncampaign at or 718-246-7900.


                  On November 20, 500 ACORN members and ten City
                  Councilmembers rallied to support passage of
                  affordable housing legislation in New York
                  City. There are currently three pieces of
                  legislation developed by ACORN under
                  consideration by City Council committees which
                  would: change the affordable housing income
                  guidelines to create thousands of units
                  affordable to households earning less than
                  $40,000 per year; reform the City's policy of
                  auctioning off public land in low-income
                  neighborhoods without any requirements for
                  improvement or development; and increase
                  disclosure requirements for the City's
                  affordable housing programs to better track who
                  is benefiting. At the press conference and
                  rally, ACORN members presented data and
                  anecdotal evidence about the city's affordable
                  housing crisis and policies towards vacant
                  land. All ten City Councilmembers attending
                  pledged their support for the measures, and
                  promised to push the City Council Speaker to
                  hold hearings on the bills. For more
                  information, contact Bertha Lewis at
                  nyacornbrk at acorn.orgor 718-246-7900. 


                  On November 20, Minnesota ACORN members held a
                  joint press conference with State Attorney
                  General Mike Hatch to announce a court order
                  requiring mortgage foreclosure rescue scam
                  operator Hendrie Grant to cease all
                  transactions, including evictions, acquiring
                  new properties and selling existing properties.
                  At the press conference, victims of Grant and
                  other foreclosure rescue scam operations shared
                  their stories, and highlighted the need for
                  additional legislative action. Following up
                  commitments made at an October 28 town hall
                  meeting organized by ACORN, a dozen State
                  Legislators and the Attorney General restated
                  their commitment to coauthoring legislation
                  during the next legislative session to protect
                  homeowners from increasing numbers of
                  aggressive foreclosure rescue scams. State
                  Attorney General Hatch credited the successful
                  court order in part to ACORN's work to
                  publicize the problem through its Foreclosure
                  Rescue Scam Campaign. For more information,
                  contact Becky Gomer at mnacorn at or


                  In November, Seattle ACORN members and local
                  crossing guards joined together to successfully
                  preserve funding for crossing guards at busy
                  intersections near schools. In Seattle,
                  crossing guards are paid for through the police
                  department budget, and are primarily retired
                  community members who work three hours per day
                  ensuring that children are able to safely cross
                  dangerous streets. In response to the mayor's
                  budget which included major cuts in funding for
                  the crossing guards, ACORN members worked with
                  crossing guards in their neighborhoods to
                  organize protests at two City Council budget
                  hearings, and hold a community forum on the
                  issue. As a result, the City Council voted to
                  fully fund crossing guards for the coming year.
                  For more information, contact Jenny Lawson at
                  waacorn at or 206-723-5845.


                        Pennsylvania and Delaware ACORN members
                        protested H&R Block's misleading
                        marketing of Refund Anticipation Loans at
                        a North Philadelphia H&R Block office.

                  On November 20, Philadelphia City Councilwoman
                  Marian Tasco introduced two ACORN-initiated
                  city resolutions to fight predatory financial
                  service providers. The first condemned the use
                  of Refund Anticipation Loans by predatory tax
                  preparers and the second promoted the use of
                  the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
                  Program. ACORN members attended the City
                  Council session in support of the resolutions,
                  and held signs reading "Rapid Refunds Hurt Our
                  Neighborhoods!" Following the meeting, ACORN
                  members held a joint press conference with
                  Councilwoman Tasco and Jean Hunt of the
                  Campaign for Working Families, which
                  coordinates Philadelphia's VITA Program.
                  Earlier in the month, on November 14, ACORN
                  members from Philadelphia, Harrisburg,
                  Pittsburgh and Delaware organized a rally at a
                  North Philadelphia H&R Block office to protest
                  the company's deceptive use of Refund
                  Anticipation Loans, which strip millions of
                  dollars from low and moderate income tax payers
                  every year. For more information, contact Ali
                  Kronley at paacorn at or 215-765-0042.


                  Over 100 living wage organizers and activists
                  gathered in Baltimore November 14-16 for
                  ACORN's third National Living Wage Campaign
                  Training Conference.  Representatives from 44
                  different campaigns - both veterans and
                  newcomers - participated in 16 workshops on
                  topics such as effective coalition building,
                  campaign research, supporting unions and new
                  directions in living wage organizing.  A subset
                  of attendees also went through a day-long media
                  training, presented in collaboration with the
                  SPIN Project, where they focused on honing
                  their messages and engaging media more
                  effectively in their campaigns.  For
                  information on the training made available at
                  the conference, contact Jen Kern at
                  natacorncam at or 617-740-9500.

                  ECONOMIC POLICIES

                  On November 25, ACORN members in Pittsburgh
                  (PA), Columbus (OH), Cleveland (OH),
                  Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN) and Little Rock (AR),
                  held joint press conferences with MoveOn
                  representatives announcing the release of a new
                  television ad criticizing the Bush
                  administration's handling of the economy. The
                  ad highlights how since Bush took office in
                  2000 more than 2 million jobs have been lost -
                  the most jobs lost during any single
                  administration since Herbert Hoover was
                  president from 1929-1933. At the press
                  conferences, ACORN members who are unemployed
                  or still struggling to pay the bills despite
                  full-time employment, testified about the
                  impact Bush's economic policies have had on
                  their lives - including this year's huge tax
                  cuts benefiting the nation's wealthiest tax
                  payers. For more information, contact Rachel
                  Burrows at rburrows at or 202-547-2500.

                  CINCINNATI ACORN OPENS

                  In November, ACORN opened a new office in
                  Cincinnati, Ohio, marking ACORN's fourth
                  chapter in the state. New ACORN members in the
                  city will be working on neighborhood campaigns,
                  including neighborhood clean-up and predatory
                  lending. For more information, contact Diedre
                  Murch at 513-258-3097.

                  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 

         or contact Steve Kest at
                  natexdirect at 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

                  Check out ACORN's website at

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                  Camellia Phillips 

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

                  phone: 718-246-7900 x227 
                  fax: 718-246-7939 
                  acornnews at 


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