ACORN Canada National

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Statement Regarding ACORN USA

Earlier today ACORN USA announced that they would cease operating as of April 1st, 2010. We wanted to take this opportunity to assure our members, allies, and supporters that their announcement will have no impact on ACORN Canada's operations

ACORN Canada will continue to operate as normal; serving our membership, advancing our campaigns and providing services just as we have for the last 5 years.

Recent months and years have seen a coordinated political strategy aimed at defunding ACORN USA’s nearly 40 year history of organizing poor and working families for a social and economic justice. We remain proud of our shared tradition and are saddened by the news.

Some of the highlights of ACORN USA's recent history include:

  • Ballot initiatives that raised the minimum wage in 4 states in 2004
  • 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 and
    New Jersey, and improvements in federal regulations.
  • Agreements negotiated with some of the nation’s largest subprime lenders, including Household
    Finance, Wells Fargo Financial, and CitiFinancial, to change abusive practices and provide direct
    financial assistance to borrowers trapped in harmful loans.
  • Fee reductions on high-cost tax Refund Anticipation Loans sold by H&R Block, the biggest
    commercial tax preparation company in the country.

To put the attacks against ACORN USA in context we recommend the following resources:

ACORN’s real crime: empowering the poor

http://www.alternet.org/story/145371/acorn%27s_real_crime:_empowering_the_poor?page=entire

ACORN’s back in the news and the news gets it wrong

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-dreier/acorn-is-back-in-the-news_b_438478.html

Video: Rachel Maddow: The truth about the lies about ACORN

http://www.videosift.com/video/Maddow-The-Truth-About-the-Lies-About-Acorn

ACORN Wins: A 10 year monetary impact report

http://www.acorn.org/fileadmin/Reports/ACORN_Wins_Report.pdf

 

Free Tax Prep and Financial Literacy

ACORN Canada is currently expanding our Free Tax Prepeeration and Financial Literacy programming. We have built on the success of our FITS Project (free income tax sites) which involved creating storefronts and a community presence for financial literacy training.  In 2007, 2008, and 2009 ACORN collaboratively ran FITS free tax preparation centers in both Toronto and the Greater Vancouver area that were open six days a week at times convenient for working people, this past tax season. We prepared taxes for low- and moderate-income families, linking them with unrealized benefits such as the GST credit, CCTB and the Canadian Employment Credit.

The cornerstone of this work is our targeted outreach campaign, for which outreach staff and trained community leaders went door-to-door talking with families and asking a series of questions to determine whether families filed taxes, met the criteria for other benefits eligibility, and/or used a commercial tax preparation service or a rapid refund loan, and at what cost.

We are now modeling formal financial literacy and asset development classes on this approach by engaging low income people on the doors and in their neighbourhoods.  We feel this is a groundbreaking approach to building community wealth and economic capacity in Canada's low income neighbourhoods.

Environmental Change Program

ACORN Canada’s Environmental Change programs aim to increase the ability of community and neighbourhood groups to identify and undertake actions in their community, which will result in a reduction in greenhouse gas and smog causing emissions.

Community organizers engage these groups and helping them undertake range of actions to meet project objectives

The program works by engaging residents through door-to-door outreach; get commitments for participation; distribute information about the project; ivsit community organizations who expressed interest; hold planning meetings;  leadership development to find new projects leads. Get draft agenda together with project leads and assign new leaders to run meeting; announce decided initiative and go over what is needed to implement project; Get feed back; Develop implementation plan for project.

 

 

 

 

2009 year in review

2009 saw ACORN Canada achieve important milestones in organizational growth as well as progress on key campaigns.   ACORN Canada continued to be a leading voice for working families across the country while solidifying its position the largest national community organizing network.

Nationally, ACORN Canada passed the 30,000 mark in membership this year – meaning 30,000 + low and moderate income families across the country have now joined the organization and committed to building a national organization to defend and advance their interests. 

Raising Wages – ACORN Canada is now the driving force behind 2 campaigns attempting to establish the first Living Wage Bylaw.  In New Westminster BC as well as in Ottawa members are organizing vibrant campaigns to raise wages for working families.  

Quality Housing – In Toronto, ACORN’s multi year campaign to win landlord licensing has yielded major victories in the past year.  The City, for the first time since amalgamating, is now deploying a proactive inspection program that is leading to increased apartment repairs across the city.

Welcome Minister Bradley

Ontario has new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.  To welcome him to his new job we've setup a tool that will let folks send him quick message to welcome his new job but also remind him about a couple important things;

1) That Ontario ACORN is calling on the provincial government to include inclusive housing enabling legislation in the upcoming long term affordable housing strategy.

2) That Jim Bradley, the new Minister should sit down with Leaders from Ontario ACORN to discuss inclusive housing and other housing issues.

Inclusive housing (commonly known as Inclusive Zoning) is a practice that is used in various forms in over 200 municipalities across North America and has the potential to radically change the way we build affordable housing in Ontario. The granting of these powers would give Ontario municipalities a powerful new tool to build and maintain affordable housing.

Click to Take Action on this Campaign >>

Inclusive Housing in Ontario

ACORN Canada and other organizations across Ontario are working together with the aim of enacting municipal inclusive housing bylaws.

Inclusionary housing policies establish municipal housing programs that rely upon the development regulations and approval process to provide affordable housing in market housing projects.

The policies represent a fundamentally different way to provide affordable housing from the conventional social housing programs used to date in this country.  Over 200 American jurisdictions have adopted Inclusive Housing Policies.

All inclusionary programs in the US contain more or less the same main regulatory components, but typically vary in their regulatory detail. The following describes what might be called the basic or predominant model.

It merits noting that the programs establish fixed and non-negotiable regulations that apply universally to all eligible projects. There is only one notable exception to this: some programs – namely, the big city programs – allow for negotiating the cost offsets while continuing fixing all of the other aspects.

*some of this story are taken from a Wellesley Institute Backgrounder on Inclusive Housing.

International Day of Action for Remittance Reform

ACORN Canada Members will be holding protests in 4 cities across Canada in a coordinated day of protest with allies in 7 other countries calling for reform of the global remittance system.

The major players in the Global Remittance market like MoneyGram, Western Union, Scotia Bank, HSBC and others charge excessively high rates that hurt immigrant families here in Canada and keep much needed resources out of the developing world.

Click here to sign the Remittance Reform Pledge to support the campaign and receive updates about the campaign.

Action for EI Reform

Employment Insurance is a key piece of Canada's social safety net, and an important economic stabilizer.  In past recessions it has prevented deeper, longer recession and reduced the shock of job losses on working families and their communities.

As this economic downturn continues, we have an EI system that is weaker than in previous recessions.  Only 42% of unemployed workers receive EI at any given time – Because fewer workers qualify and benefit weeks are reduced.

Now is the time to expand EI to protect workers, their families and vulnerable communities.

Click to Sign the Petition >>

ACORN Canada 2.0


Welcome to the new ACORNCanada.org.

We’ve redevelop our website and online organizing infrastructure to help us better engage and connect with supporters like you.

We’re doing this because we want to build an online movement that can rival what’s happening online in other parts of the world. ACORNCanada.org is an attempt to bring ordinary Canadian’s back into the political process - a way for busy but concerned Canadians to take action in a system dominated by big money and big business.

So let’s get started.

Take action on a campaign, register for an RSS feed, sign up for ‘action alerts’ or connect on facebook. There are going to be more exciting changes coming soon, so check back often.

That said, this site is still a work in progress, and bear with us as we work out the kinks.  If you find a dead link, something you think we should change or just want to offer feed back, drop us an email acorncanada (at) acorncanada.org.

Ontario Budget Response

Yesterday the Government of Ontario released their budget for the coming fiscal year.

The budget contains a number of tax changes, spending programs and direct payments to Ontarians, but ACORN would like to highlight investment in one particular area; Affordable Housing.

In the lead up to the federal budget ACORN, along with our allies, ran an energetic campaign urging the federal government to use their stimulus spending to build and repair Canada’s affordable housing stock.

While the federal government opted to provide rebates to consumers who re-pave their driveway or build a new deck at their cottage, it appears Queen’s Park got the message.

The budget is calling for the renovation of 50,000 existing social housing units and the construction of 45,000 new affordable housing units.

Two further points around this issue are also encouraging; first, the money provided has a two year life span, helping create a sense of urgency around affordable housing that had been lacking in recent years.  As well, Finance Minister Duncan told the CBC that in some cases municipalities may not be required to provide matching funds to access the money.

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