THE MONETARY IMPACT OF ACORN CAMPAIGNS:
A Ten Year Retrospective, 1995-2004
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has been building organizations anddeveloping leadership among low and moderate income residents in neighborhoods throughout the United Statesfor thirty-ﬁve years. During that time, ACORN chapters have worked individually and collectively to organizeinnovative grassroots campaigns on a number of critical issues. While these victories have been documented in variouspublications, they have rarely been quantiﬁed in a way that demonstrates the scale of wealth redistribution ACORNhas achieved. Whether getting more cops on the street, putting more money into the pockets of workers, or reducingcrippling debt for homeowners, ACORN has and continues to redirect resources from public and private institutions to families and communities across the country.
PUTTING A DOLLAR VALUE ON COMMUNITY ORGANIZING
This report attempts to document and quantify ACORN victories for a recent ten year period, from 1995-2004. By no means exhaustive, it does convey a real sense of the breadth of ACORN victories, as well as the monetary impactof some of ACORN’s most ambitious and groundbreaking campaigns, such as its work on predatory lending and livingwages. Examining just this ten-year slice of ACORN’s activism yields impressive numbers.
Using a range of issue-speciﬁc methodologies, a conservative estimate puts the total monetary value of ACORNvictories for the last decade at $15 billion, or an average of $1.5 billion per year since 1995. In some instances, theseare one-time gains, but in many cases – as with long-term systemic changes to lending practices and wage structures – beneﬁts will accrue to homeowners, workers and their families for years to come.
Living and Minimum Wage Increases
EITC and Tax Preparation
Loan Counseling and CRA
Local infrastructure and public services
Budget cutbacks averted/restored
Categorized by issue area, these totals encompass the estimated monetary beneﬁts of some of ACORN’s major campaigns between 1995 and 2004, including:• Passage of 11 living wage ordinances, and minimum wage increases in Illinois, Massachusetts,Florida, New York, and the City of San Francisco.• Legislation limiting predatory lending in Massachusetts, New Mexico, California, New York andNew Jersey, and improvements in federal regulations.• Agreements negotiated with some of the nation’s largest subprime lenders, including HouseholdFinance, Wells Fargo Financial, and CitiFinancial, to change abusive practices and provide directﬁnancial assistance to borrowers trapped in harmful loans.• Fee reductions on high-cost tax Refund Anticipation Loans sold by H&R Block, the biggestcommercial tax preparation company in the country.• Helping 5,000 low-income households claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and receivefree tax preparation in 2004 alone.