contact: John Jackson, ACORN LA
Re: Predatory Lending, Affordable Housing, Campaign for a Wage-Paying Community Service Work Program and The Child Care Provider's Bill of Rights.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, ACORN, is a membership organization which places in the first rank of its priorities the empowerment and maximum participation of community members.
The ACORN process builds and mobilizes community leadership from the bottom up. This is achieved through a democratic decision making process and goal setting at all levels and mobilizations by the organization of strategic campaign work to impact policy that affects the lives of its members. Towards that end ACORN is now engaged on several fronts:
Predatory Lending may be defined as a policy or policies of unfair lending processes that are initiated by financial institutions that all but ensure default on the part of the borrower. Mechanisms utilized include but are not limited to higher interest payments, 'balloon' payments, under-valuation of collateral tendered by purchasers and over-valuation of properties offered on the part of the lending institutions.
In the Fall of 1999 ACORN launched the first ever direct-action campaign against a such a lender-Orange County-based Ameriquest Mortgage: In October, ACORN released "Stripping the Wealth" a nation-wide study on Predatory Lending; In January of 2000, ACORN sponsored legislation authored by State Senator Hilda Solis in California that would outlaw such harmful practices; in March, 300 ACORN members visited Washington to express their concerns to lawmakers; in June, Ameriquest agreed to curb such practices setting a precedent for the rest of the sub-prime lending industry; in October, ACORN released its second study "Separate and Unequal" revealing the startling effects of such policies in low and moderate income communities nationwide; in January of 2001, a new bill against predatory lending was introduced in the California State Senate sponsor! ed by both ACORN and the American Association of Retired People. Across the country ACORN has taken on predatory lending by way of passing legislation and by isolating individual companies by urging divestment of city funds from companies engaged in such practices and by disseminating information directly to the public and to the shareholders of such companies. Household Beneficial has been forced to return .5 million they had been charging for credit insurance. In Los Angeles Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced legislation to curb such lending practices in Los Angeles.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times on February 18th of 2001 "Activists Protest Projects' Lack of Low Income Units" ACORN took on the Brentwood-based developer G.H. Palmer and Associates over the builders failure to live up to a 1991 city regulation that requires that 15% of new apartment units must be devoted to families with annual incomes of less than , 500. Palmer had negotiated a deal with Council member Rita Walters to devote only 8% of his "Medici" complex at 8th St and Bixel to "moderate" (not low) income units. 70 members of ACORN had shut down the sales office in the latter part of 2000 and following the confrontation reported in the Times on March 15th over 125 members and supporters including unions, clergy and community activists blocked off the construction site. This action ended when 5 members of ACORN were arrested. On March 27th the hearing room of the Central Area Planning Commission was packed forcing a reconsideration of the commission's earlier decision to grant Palmer the partial waver. Los Angeles ACORN feels that LA is going to be 'ground zero' in a protracted affordable housing struggle.
In view of the fact that the City of Los Angeles spends only per person/per year on housing programs; that in Los Angeles almost 75% of families with annual incomes of less than ,000 pay over 50% of their income on rent; that Los Angeles has the 3rd highest rate of overcrowding in the country; and, that there are over 150,000 substandard apartments of slum housing in this city; ACORN will have no choice but to continue and to accelerate its efforts in this area.
THE CAMPAIGN FOR A WAGE-PAYING COMMUNITY SERVICE WORK PROGRAM
"Everyone who works deserves a paycheck". No ifs, ands or buts about it. In late 1996 LA ACORN formed the Workfare Workers Organizing Committee (WWOC) as a membership association composed of the workers themselves who democratically determine their priorities, program and plans of action. We have issued the following demands: Equal treatment of workers on welfare and 'regular' workers; workfare programs ought better prepare their participants to obtain a decent job; these workers ought have access to services that enable them to work such as child care, transportation and clothing; the County of Los Angeles ought address its job shortage by creating more public sector jobs; and, that for such jobs the County ought adopt a "First Source" hiring policy giv! ing workfare workers the first chance to apply.
THE CHILD CARE PROVIDER'S BILL OF RIGHTS.
Family Day Care Providers are joining together to fight for their rights. These workers, who provide professional child care out of their homes, seek improvements in the subsidized child care system, including: ON-TIME PAYMENTS, A FAIR WAGE, HEALTH INSURANCE, AND DIGNITY & RESPECT! Child Care providers are saying that when public dollars are meant for public good then the public has the right to be involved with that process.
1.) Sign on to the attached BILL OF RIGHTS for Family Day Care Providers. It is still a work in progress, so you can sign on and give us your ideas!
2.) Attend the Community Forum where child care providers will be presenting this Bill of Rights to county agencies that are responsible for administering state subsidized child care programs
"ACORN CHILD CARE PROVIDERS FOR ACTION"BILL OF RIGHTS (Abridged Version)
"...We are calling on all who care about the quality and quantity of childcare in LA County and who care about basic rights for all workers, to join us in supporting the ACORN Child Care Providers Bill of Rights:
FAIR WAGES-Family Day Care Providers should receive a living wage for the work they do...
PROFESSIONALISM IN RELATIONSHIP WITH ADMINISTERING AGENCIES-Administering agencies should treat (providers) with courtesy and respect (and) must not discriminate against providers..."
WHAT CAN YOU DO
-Hold meetings at your houses, churches, synagogues , community centers, union halls-An ACORN member will bring a video of ACORN's work, informational flyers
-Become a part of ACORN's Citizens for Economic Justice team
-Become a monthly sustainer of this important work
-Volunteer to help in this effort
-Sign on to the Child Care Worker's Bill of Rights
-Call, e-mail or write the City Attorney's Office and encourage him to work with ACORN on predatory lending enforcement