Organizers working on the Gulf Coast include the following:
ACORN, (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) founded in 1970, has over 175,000 member families. They are organized in 850 neighborhood chapters in 75 cities, in four countries. ACORN has run campaigns on housing, schools, neighborhood safety, health care, job conditions and more. Members participate in local meetings and actively work on campaigns, elect leadership from the neighborhood level up and pay the organization’s core expenses through membership dues and grassroots fundraisers.
(Editor’s note: ACORN became defunct in 2010.)
The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) has 56 affiliate organizations in 21 states and four countries. While its modern incarnation dates to the 1970s, IAF traces its roots to the activism of Saul Alinsky in Chicago in the 1940s. The organization’s affiliates are made up of religious congregations of various denominations. Recent campaigns of note include the living wage movement, Nehemiah owner-occupied housing in four cities in the Northeastern United States, community schools, and blight removal in struggling urban neighborhoods.
Like IAF, PICO’s members are congregations, with over 1,000 member institutions in 150 cities in 17 states. PICO was founded in 1972 to help support neighborhood groups in California. Its model is that congregations serve as the institutional base for community organizations. It has been especially active in recent years on the issues of health care, housing, neighborhood safety, civic participation and high-quality public schools and after-school programs.
The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition (PHRF) is a project of Community Labor United, founded in New Orleans in 1998. The CLU is composed of African-American grassroots community groups and multi-ethnic allies. The PHRF was formed in the week after Hurricane Katrina to plan a people’s response to the crisis. It has held demonstrations in New Orleans and in cities to which many residents were displaced, with the central goal of ensuring residents’ right of return.