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John Atlas

80 Posts

John Atlas is a founder of Shelterforce and board chair emeritus. He is the producer of ACORN and the Firestorm, a film directed by Reuben Atlas and Sam Pollard and author of SEEDS OF CHANGE: The Story of ACORN, America's Most Controversial Anti-Poverty Community Group. He is also the former executive director of the Passaic County Legal Aid Society.
On a bulletin board or thick cardboard backing are taped 11 clippings of news headlines, cartoons, and newsletter covers, all about the tenant organizing movement of the 1970s and '80s.
Practitioner Voice

The Rise and Fall of the National Tenants Union

The National Tenants Union fought for tenant rights in the 1970s and early 1980s. One of the union’s founders reflects on the organization and what we might learn from those times.

Television’s Antidote to Trump

David Simon’s underappreciated Show Me a Hero offers hope that racial divides can be mended, and past injustices overcome. As November creeps up on us, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton […]


Newark, NJ, Mayor Tries Eminent Domain for Underwater Homes

Newark’s newly-elected mayor Ras Baraka has taken a bold step to address one of the city’s and state’s most serious crises. On May 20th, Baraka persuaded his city council colleagues […]

Financial System

When The Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses Fought Back

Financial Justice is the untold story of how a diverse group of progressive organizations took on the powerful financial lobby, pushed Congress to create a strong new consumer protection agency and against the odds, won.

Housing Advocacy

Is There Room for Real Change in the Democratic Party?

Thirty-one years before Cory Booker, Junius Williams, another dynamic African-American Yale Law School graduate, moved to Newark with ambitions much like Booker’s. Both had success, but their paths diverged, personifying […]


Jon Kest’s Activism, New York’s Future

Thousands of Bill de Blasio’s grassroots supporters—as well as the small inner circle of advisers who helped catapult him into office and will help guide the newly elected mayor as […]

Housing Advocacy

Booker: Kill the Filibuster, End Watt’s Wait

Cory Booker was just sworn in as a U.S. Senator. His introduction to the lunacy of Senate procedure was swift. In April, the well regarded Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) was […]

Financial System

Deflating a GOP Double Standard

After the sequester cut teaching jobs, Head Start spots, senior food programs, and access to nutrition assistance for over half a million women and their families, the GOP revealed its […]


A Gift of Hope: Peter Dreier’s Social Justice Hall of Fame

If you are looking for a great holiday gift, consider Peter Dreier’s timely new book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. The […]


Don’t Rewrite Andrew Breitbart’s Legacy

I extend condolences to Andrew Breitbart’s family. He died last week at the young age of 43. Because my brother died at age 36, I know how a sudden death […]


In Maryland, Holding Anti-ACORN Activists Accountable

A group of activists are fighting back against the Glenn Becks, Andrew Breitbarts, and the rest of the Fox News propaganda machine who have worked tirelessly to spread lies about […]


How Did the Media Fail ACORN and Organizing?

Organizing has been under attack for years, but this time around, the media has been directly complicit in severely damaging one of most influential advocates for low- and moderate-income families in the country. How did the media miss the real story behind the assault on ACORN?