Programs and Services

Social Assistance Forum Draws Candidates

Ottawa ACORN members hosted a Social Assistance Forum Sept 15 and invited candidates in the provincial election to answer hard hitting questions around the rates of social assistance, special diet, child poverty, affordable housing and more.

120 community members attended and as well as a number of local media outlets. Representatives from the New Democrats, Liberals, Green Party, People's for Special Needs Party and others participated.  All parties were invited so members and the community could hear their views before casting their vote on election day.

Dan Oickle, a leader from Ottawa ACORN had this to say:

"We did a good event, but politicians need to be held accountable for the promises they make. Politicians are politicians, but we need to make sure they remember who elected them."

The Province: Trying to flush out change for tenants

Tenants who endure long waits to deal with problems with landlords at the province's Residential Tenancy Branch in Burnaby -without benefit of a public washroom -got some help Wednesday when the advocacy group ACORN Canada delivered a makeshift portable toilet to the branch's Kingsway office.

ACORN said it wanted to make a point to branch executive director Suzanne Bell that she needs to provide facilities for clients.

"We thought we got our point across loud and clear," said ACORN spokesman John Anderson.

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ACORN Canada National Community Change Summit

ACORN Canada’s Community Change Summit is a gathering of community leaders from across the Canada with a purpose to learn, discuss, and shape the campaigns and ideas that are coming out of low and moderate income neighbourhoods for years to come.

This is new national initiative aimed at bringing ACORN Canada members, supporters and allies together for 3 days of workshops, trainings, speakers and action!

The Summit will be held at Ottawa’s Carleton University with accommodations on site - so if you haven’t already RSVP’d, contact us today and we’ll help make the arrangements.


Free Income Tax Site Grows Once Again

Our New 2nd floor office in Metro Vancouver has been busy ever since we moved in in early February of this year. That is because, for the 5th year straight, ACORN Canada’s Free Income Tax Site has been busy doing hundreds of tax returns for members and people in our communities. So far, this year we have done more than 800 tax returns which is an increase of over 30% over our 2010 tax site.

In the 5 years ACORN Canada has done Free Income Taxes in Metro Vancouver we have returned over 6 Million Dollars in tax returns, rebates, and benefits! Add to this that we have saved people $400,000 in tax preparation costs and it is clear that ACORN Canada is a major stimulus to the neighbourhoods where we work!

But that is just the beginning. Our free income tax site gives our members a great opportunity to share their campaigns with people who come to get their taxes done. Our new campaign for Remittance Justice is becoming a very popular topic of serious discussion in the office. Many new people coming in to get their taxes done feel the pain of the exorbitant costs of sending money transfers back to their families and friends. And better still, they are getting involved with ACORN Canada’s campaign for regulatory changes to the Money Transfer Industry.

Regulations that will hold banks and companies like Western Union to account for the predatory business practices here in BC.

We like doing your taxes and if you know anyone who has a simple tax return in need of filing just call 604 5221

Ottawa EMC: ACORN providing free tax returns for low income families

Low-income families throughout Ottawa won't have to worry about losing a portion of their tax return to processing fees this tax season.

The Ottawa chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now [Canada] (ACORN Canada) is providing free tax return service for the less privileged in the community.

The program is made possible through the efforts of volunteers like Keisha Lim, a fourth-year economics student at the University of Ottawa who is also serving as the tax clinic coordinator.

"On average, we save people around $80 by doing their taxes here," said Lim. "This is the third year that ACORN has been running the tax service. We have done 1,266 tax returns the last two years, and 244 for back taxes. We've put back $1.6 million into the neighbourhood through those savings."

This is the third year the program has been serving the community, and has done roughly 600 returns per year.

"We're here to help people," said Lim. "Instead of putting money in the pockets of corporations, we're letting people keep that money themselves."

The program has helped people from all over the Ottawa area, from places as far away as North Grenville, Kanata, and Orleans.

Ottawa Citizen: Tax clinics bridge gap for low-income earners

ACORN [Canada] and other antipoverty organizations offer those in need affordable tax-filing alternatives to paying hefty fees for instant cash refunds, Don Butler writes.

Last year, Wayne Mahoney paid a company $130 to prepare his income-tax return and issue him an instant tax refund. The fee was painful, but he urgently needed the money to pay some bills. "It's a big hole in my pocket," says Mahoney, 55, who lives with his wife in subsidized housing in Ottawa's west end on a $1,500-a-month disability pension. "I basically came out on the short end of the stick." Mahoney needs help with his taxes because, he admits, "I don't understand the tax system. And if you can't understand the tax system, you can't win."

This year, though, he's getting his tax return done at no charge by volunteers at Ottawa ACORN, the local chapter of a national anti-poverty organization. It's the third year that Ottawa ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) has offered the free tax-preparation service. In the past two years, it has filed 1,266 tax returns for low-and moderate-income Ottawans.

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 >>

Citizen: Free clinic aims to take pain out of income tax season

A bicycle, new clothes, a trip to the museum -- these are some of the things Andrea Thomas can buy for her children with her income tax refund.

And thanks to a free clinic for low-income earners, the Ottawa mother of three gets to keep even more of her cash.

For a second year, the Ottawa Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is offering to complete and file basic income tax claims for free.

Organizers say the service helps give people autonomy over their financial affairs and lets them contribute to society, but saves them the costly fees storefront tax-filing services levy. The going rate for such a service is around $80.

The clinic also ensures people get all the benefits they deserve, from GST rebates to credits for taking the bus and paying rent.

Last year, ACORN helped more than 600 people file their income taxes.

"It's a great program because it caters to all walks of life," said Matthew Bullock, the tax clinic co-ordinator.

Households earning less than $30,000 per year -- be they recent immigrants, seniors, students, single-parent families or people on income assistance and disability -- are the priority, he added.

EMC: Ease taxing times at Vanier's free tax clinic

In terms of filing your taxes, that is.

For the second year in a row, the Vanier-based activist group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) will be hosting a free tax clinic through the tax season. The office fully opened up at ACORN HQ at 81 Montréal Road, Unit F, on Tuesday, March 2, and runs until Saturday, May 15. Tax filing day is Friday, April 30.

While Acorn offered a satellite tax filing office in Hintonburg in the west end last year, the operations have been centralized in Vanier for this year.

"It's better to have it concentrated in one location. All of our information is here," said Centretown resident Matthew Bullock is the group's tax site coordinator, during the media launch for the program on the morning of Friday, February 19.

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 >>