ACORN Facing Significant Problems

With state and local chapters of ACORN all over the country considering forming their own groups as the national organizing feels the effects of months and year of right wing political attacks and internal strife, it’s now being reported that ACORN is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Several of the organization’s 1,200 chapters — prominent ones — including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York, which resurfaced as New York Communities for Change, are trying something of a remake, particularly after become a political lightening rod after ACORN lost federal funding in the fallout from a 20-minute, staged, heavily edited, and now commonly accepted as deceptive video showing a Baltimore ACORN counselor offering housing advice to a pimp and a prostitute. The Congressional vote to rescind federal funding was later deemed unconstitutional.

Will 40 years of work on good causes like advocating increases in minimum wage, fighting predatory lending, and conducing voter registration drives go gentle into that good night? Unlikely. But it seems that in many cases, ACORN — the name, not the cause — will likely emerge in a different form in the months and years to come.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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