ACORN Canada National

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Statement on National Day of Action for Affordable Housing

July 8th, ACORN Canada members are coming together today for a National Day of Action to call on the Harper Conservatives to support private members Bill C-304 for a national housing strategy.

Currently the Bill has support from both the Liberals and the NDP.

ACORN Canada members will be holding rallies, press events, and petitioning in Metro Vancouver, Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa.

Miloon Kothari, the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing, came to Canada in 2007 and recommended that Canada adopt a comprehensive and coordinated national housing policy based on indivisibility of human rights and the protection of the most vulnerable.

In June 9 2009 the federal government accepted the UN recommendations on housing, and stated:

"Canada acknowledges that there are challenges and the Government of Canada commits to continuing to explore ways to enhance efforts to address poverty and housing issues, in collaboration with provinces and territories."

It's time to make good on these commitments.

Bill C-304 would require the federal government to consult with the Provinces and Territories to develop a National Housing Plan that would "ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians".

It's time for a national housing strategy

When Parliament recessed earlier this month Bill C-304 for a National Affordable Housing Strategy had made impressive progress, having passed second reading, but still wasn't law.  The Bill would require the government to consult with the provinces and establish a national housing program. 

ACORN Canada members across the country are excited by this progress but frustrated by the delays and Parliamentary gridlock preventing it from becoming law.  Since the Federal Government's decision in 1996 to remove CHMC from the process of building affordable housing, Canadians have been without a meaningful national housing plan. 

On July 8th, ACORN members and supporters are planning action in a number of cities across Canada to build support for this important piece of legislation.

For details on the Toronto action click here

For details on the Ottawa action click here

For details on the Metro Vancouver action click here

For details on the Hamilton action click here

 

Don't Bloc Affordable Housing

Image waking up one morning this spring and reading this headline:

"Bill to create National Housing Strategy defeated in House of Commons"

I don't want to feel like I could have done more and didn't. Do you? ACORN members have been organizing to build community support for Bill C-304 for a National Housing Strategy, but we need to keep the pressure up until the final vote.

Can you take action to help win the passage of this important piece of legislation?

Click to Take Action on this Campaign >>

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.

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