Dedication of two new homes signals rebirth of New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward

From an ACORN E-News Special Report -- Working for Affordable Housing:

A thousand people rally in Brooklyn to keep their working class apartment complex affordable; two new homes rise from the devastation in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward; tenants win new rights in Toronto and Madison. In cities across the country--and beyond-- ACORN members are winning victories that bring safe and affordable housing to their communities. Below are some recent highlights. Please visit to learn more and support our work.

Dedication of two new homes signals rebirth of New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward

Longtime 9th Ward residents Josephine Butler and Gwendolyn Guice will get the keys to the first new homes built there since Hurricane Katrina.

On Feb. 22, longtime Lower 9th Ward residents Josephine Butler and Gwendolyn Guice will get the keys to the first new homes built in the Lower 9th Ward since Hurricane Katrina. Congressman William Jefferson and other dignitaries will attend a dedication ceremony hosted by ACORN community members and representatives of a unique group of partners who worked together to build the homes on Delery Street. The partners include ACORN, ACORN Housing, Countrywide Bank, Fannie Mae, and Louisiana State University. "The 9th Ward is coming back," said Vanessa Guerringer, chairwoman of ACORN’s Lower 9th Ward chapter. "This project will put hope in the hearts of so many who have faced so many hopeless situations."

NY ACORN fights to protect affordable apartment complex that houses 12,000

Starrett City is threatened with gentrification. (Photo by: Runs Brooklyn)

More than 1,000 people attended a New York ACORN rally at a church near Brooklyn's Starrett City apartments to express concerns about the sale of the United States' largest government subsidized rental housing complex. The massive real estate deal threatens to price 12,000 residents out of their homes in Starrett City, a 140-acre community spread over 46 buildings in Brooklyn. “This is ground zero for gentrification,” said Bertha Lewis, Executive Director of New York ACORN.

The real estate company Clipper Equity LLC has offered to buy the complex for $1.3 billion. However, the deal isn't final. New York ACORN and elected officials including New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo are concerned about the owner of Clipper Equity's dismal track record managing other properties and have committed to help fight the sale. ACORN members say they will fight to keep Starrett City affordable regardless of who the owner is. Learn more at

Philadelphia ACORN brings housing issues to mayor’s race

Philadelphia ACORN members rally for affordable housing.

On Feb. 8, Philadelphia ACORN members gathered outside the construction site of 44-story Residences at the Ritz tower near City Hall to call attention for the need for more affordable housing in city-sponsored development. “We're here today because this is one of the many symbols of these extraordinarily luxurious condo complexes in which everyone gets 10-year tax breaks,” ACORN member Neil Herrmann said. “Yet we continue to see minimal investments in all the communities in Philadelphia that need help.” Philadelphia ACORN members are campaigning to get all five current mayoral candidates to support policies listed in their “People’s Platform” which calls for 8,000 new units of affordable housing to be built across the city, as well as increased funding for home repair and heating assistance.

FEMA housing aid restored for more than 1,000 families

After winning continued housing assistance for more than 1,000 families dislocated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, ACORN has ended a lawsuit filed against FEMA last August. ACORN sued FEMA on behalf of hurricane evacuees in the section 403 program for terminating benefits without providing a meaningful explanation or chance to appeal. Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and Public Citizen represented ACORN and helped families challenge unfair denials of benefits.

"Judge Leon’s emergency orders forced FEMA to do what we demanded -- tell survivors of Hurricane Katrina why they had been cut off from aid so they had a reasonable chance to appeal and keep a roof over their heads while they work to rebuild," said ACORN President Maude Hurd.

ACORN Katrina Survivors Association chapters also campaigned successfully to have FEMA extend post-Katrina housing aid at the end of January. ACORN is still asking Congress and the Bush administration to amend FEMA rules to allow 18 months of additional assistance for Hurricane Katrina survivors.