Facing South

Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing programs

acorn.jpgOn Monday, the Senate voted 83-7 to block the Department of Housing and Urban Development from granting funds to ACORN -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- the grassroots community organization that has faced a barrage of attacks from conservative activists and Republican lawmakers over the past year.

As the Associated Press reported on the Senate vote to block federal housing and community grants to ACORN: 

The Senate's move would mean that ACORN would not be able to win HUD grants for programs such as counseling low-income people on how to get mortgages and for fair housing education and outreach. 

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said that ACORN has received $53 million in taxpayer funds since 1994 and that the group was eligible for a wider set of funding in the pending legislation, which funds housing and transportation programs. 


ACORN, which advocates for low-income families, has suffered a string of public setbacks recently stemming from alleged voter-registration fraud by ACORN employees in Florida and the release of hidden-camera videos from a conservative group showing ACORN employees in Baltimore giving tax advice and house-buying advice to a man posing as a pimp and woman posing as a prostitute. ACORN has said that the Baltimore videotape was edited, doctored and dubbed over, and that the tape also violated Maryland's wiretapping laws. 


The conservative Fox News Channel has been a major vehicle for fueling the latest hidden-camera controversy over the past week. In a statement, Bertha Lewis, ACORN's chief organizer, said that Fox News continues to engage in a right-wing smear campaign against the group. 


ACORN's Lewis further addressed the aggressive conservative push to discredit the group in a recent statement:

The relentless attacks on ACORN's members, its staff and the policies and positions we promote are unprecedented. An international entertainment conglomerate, disguising itself as a "news" agency (Fox), has expended millions, if not tens of millions of dollars, in their attempt to destroy the largest community organization of Black, Latino, poor and working families in the country. It is not coincidence that the most recent attacks have been launched just when health care reform is gaining traction. It is clear they've had these tapes for months. 

We are their Willy Horton for 2009. We are the boogeyman for the right-wing and its echo chambers. If ACORN did not exist, the right-wing would have needed to create us in order to achieve their agenda, their missions, their ideal, retrograde America. This recent scam, which was attempted in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia to name a few places, had failed for months before the results we've all recently seen.  


ACORN, which is nationally headquartered in New Orleans, first became a prime target of Republicans and conservative groups last year after the group conducted a massive voter registration effort, registering thousands of African-American and Latino voters, in the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election. 


In recent months Republicans have become increasingly vocal in criticizing the Census Bureau's ties with ACORN, which was tapped to help with outreach efforts to promote the 2010 count and to boost participation in communities of color. In light of the political firestorm, last Friday the Census Bureau severed its partnership with ACORN. 


In a letter to ACORN, Census officials explained: "It is clear that ACORN's affiliation with the 2010 Census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 Census efforts."


ACORN, founded in the South in the early 1970s, has been one of the nation's leading networks of community organizers launching social justice campaigns in working-class communities across the region. What impact the recent bad publicity and potential loss of funding will have on ACORN is yet to be measured, particularly when it comes to what many grassroots leaders call the group's vital advocacy work in low-income communities of color, especially in the South. 


Housing advocacy has always been a key component of ACORN's community work, and the federal funding was used by the group to provide counseling to low-income families trying to obtain fixed-rate mortgages. Over the past year ACORN has also participated in a nation-wide campaign around foreclosure prevention, helping thousands of low-income residents weather the mortgage foreclosure crisis. 


Observers say ACORN has become a popular scapegoat of conservatives because the group has played a critical role in organizing low-income people of color to participate in elections and to push for progressive change. The Senate vote is the third time this year that Republicans have tried to end the organization's eligibility for federal funding, according to the Wall Street Journal. 


"We're disappointed that the Senate took the rare and politically convenient step of supporting eliminating some federal funding for a single organization, one that has been the target of a multi-year political assault stemming variously from the Bush White House, Fox News, and other conservative quarters," Lewis said in a statement. 


According to ACORN, the Senate's action was disappointing but would have little impact on its overall operations because the group derives most of its income from its members and other supporters. "The only real victims of today's vote are the families who have benefited from ACORN's important work," Lewis said.




People Referenced:


re: Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing pr

I'm going to joing ACORN right now to help make up for the cowardly actions by the Senate, which has given in to the scare tactics used by FOX & GOP. This organization tries to help the poor, for Christ's sake. But the 'Christian' right don't care about that apparently.

re: Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing pr

The reason people turn to prostitution is poverty. at a time when unemployment is in double digits, the Senate cuts funding to people who need it the most. What is next, more tax breaks for the wealthy?
the focus should be on the people that lied to Acorn about their identity and who funded the swift-boating of Acorn.

re: Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing pr

ACORN is a good example of what happens when you create a suedo-governmental entity with no oversight. Voter fraud, assisting prostitution? The fact is no one has the slightest idea of what these people atre up to.

re: Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing pr

Where were these concerned lawmakers when Blackwater was murdering people in the streets of Iraq using taxpayer money???

re: Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing pr

Sure... George Soros money !
Just faxed the HUD Inspector General demanding an investigation ( Criminal) into ACORNs activities. Put the leaders of ACORN in jail and shut em down. Looks like they could move out of those shabby "banner in the window" offices with fold up tables and papers stuck to the wall pretty quickly.

re: Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing pr

Congratulations Senate! Great move! Thank you for stopping the funding.
Senator Durbin and Senator Burris from Illinois. You should be ashamed for not voting to stop the funding!

re: Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing pr

The white members of Senate are so naive-
This is obvious KKK tactics against poor and minorities especially.
follow the trail...!

re: Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing pr

Terrific - Hope that helps you feel better.
Maybe you could even help those illegals the ACORN
worker smuggled in - his words not mine.
Wonder if they were just poor , unfortunates he
aided for free or if there was a "service fee"
like most coyotes charge.

re: Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing pr

hmmmm ok...good they defund them...obvious choice>!

re: Senate votes to block funds to ACORN's low-income housing pr

There are over 400,000 members at ACORN, over 700 working employees in over 60 offices in America. They find 5 who are beneath contempt and claim this is representative of ACORN.

There's Larry Craig, Mark Foley, Florida State Rep. Bob Allen (Allen approached undercover Black cop and asked to give him a blow job) on and on from Conservatives. Is that representative of GOP?

Republican Party is afraid of ACORN's success in voter registration drives and grassroots work in minority areas. Those Repubs have been going after ACORN for years. ACORN is over 30 years old and will survive.

ACORN had great success in New York this week. Their "Working Family Party" candidates have won successfully unseating encumbents. Even in the midst of this people still voted in WFP candidates very much an endorsement for ACORN.

Long live ACORN. I support them.