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ACORN International

ACORN the union is an affiliate of ACORN International; a federation of member-based community organisations and unions active in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada, and the United States.

The ACORN idea dates back 50 years. First started in 1970 in Arkansas, the Association of Community Organisations for Reform Now quickly spread, becoming the most powerful community organisation in the United States before spreading out across the world via ACORN International.

The idea was simple: That when individuals join together in community groups and unions, we are more powerful. And when community groups and unions join together to make organisations big enough to cover cities, countries, industries and continents, we can have the power to change whatever we want to.

And ACORN proves it. We now have hundreds of thousands of members worldwide and a list of victories that few can match.

For the last 15 years, ACORN International has worked on housing issues in communities and mega slums around the world:

  • San Juan Laragancho – Lima, Peru: One of largest in the world, we have won construction of schools, access to potable water, construction of stairs to squatted land on mountainsides, construction of a park, road paving, and other improvements.
  • La Matanza – Buenos Aires, Argentina: We have worked off and on for many years with squatter families through the elaborate 8-year process to claim title to the land and get access to provincial services.
  • The Neza – Outside Mexico City: Perhaps the largest megaslum in the world, we have worked to extend access to potable water which was sucking up more than 50% of the income of many families, forcing the lines to be extended.
  • Dharavi – Mumbai, India: ACORN, our recyclers cooperative, and our Dharavi Project have been significant pieces of the coalition preventing displacement of slum dwellers facing redevelopment plans to the extent that the displacement has been limited to only one small area.
  • Quito, Ecuador: ACORN worked with communities of squatters to achieve the benchmarks of community support by property owners in order to receive title to the land where they squatted in several areas in the southern part of the city.
  • San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, Honduras: ACORN Honduras has been involved in continuous campaigns to win access to land titles for long time squatters largely in the colonias around both major cities, as well as winning access to potable water in Colonias Ramon Amador in Tegucigalpa and Cholomo in the maquila areas outside SPS.
  • ACORN affiliates in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Senegal have been engaged for more than six years in a campaign against land grabbing on palm oil and rubber plantations by companies controlled by Bollore and Socfin.  Agreements with local villages were made and then not implemented while land was taken from the villages and planted without the promised clinics and schools. This campaign continues unabated, yet the Brussels and Paris based conglomerate has refused recent negotiations.
  • In Canada, where we are largely tenant-based, we have fought for and won in certain areas (Toronto) landlord licensing forcing repairs and inspections. We are engaging landlords, REITs, and hedge funds in Ottawa, the Vancouver area, Hamilton, and other cities around demovictions (forced evictions triggering demolition and construction of high value condos), renovictions (forced evictions to enable renovations, creating high end apartments/condos and displacement).
  • In the United States, ACORN was part of the campaign that won the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977 and subsequently engaged in campaigns with major national and local financial institutions that resulted by the mid-80s until the 2007 crash in agreements negotiated by ACORN directly in six million families acquiring homes.

Additionally over the last 50 years, ACORN has:

In the United States…

  • Registered 5 million low income voters and elected scores of members to city councils, school boards, and legislative positions.
  • Raised wages through more than 100 successful “living wage” initiatives including winning minimum wage increases in several states that gave raises worth billions of dollars annually to more than 10 million lower waged workers.
  • Forced banks to sign agreements for billions of dollars of home mortgage loans that made 7 million families home owners.
  • Dramatically increased income supports for lower waged workers through tax programs and increasing outreach for tax credits.
  • Won thousands of community improvements in 38 states and 100 cities where ACORN organized more than 600 community organizations with 500,000 members.

In Canada…

  • Won country’s first living wage bylaw in New Westminster in British Columbia with a starting wage of over $16 per hour.
  • Won more than $150,000,000 in landlord improvements for tenants in Toronto with a campaign for landlord licensing.
  • Won legislation and reforms to stop payday lending abuses in British Columbia, Ontario and other provinces.
  • Won legislation to cap the cost of money transfers from new Canadians back to their home countries as part of the ACORN International Remittance Justice Campaign.

Around the World…

  • Won reform of the bursary system in Korogocho mega-slum in Nairobi, Kenya so that children’s fees for secondary school would be paid.
  • Stopped water privatisation schemes in a number of Peruvian cities and won construction of schools, parks, roads, and stairways in San Juan Lauragancho, the mega-slum near Lima.
  • Won provision of potable water in numerous informal communities in cities in Honduras, Mexico, and India.
  • Engaged in the fight for – and slowly winning – land for informal communities in La Matanza, the mega-slum in Argentina, in south Quito in Ecuador, and in Lima, Peru.
  • Have won major rent reductions for tenants in Rome and throughout Italy.
  • Organised coalitions to stop big multinational retail companies (like Tesco and Walmart) in India and win protections for 20 million workers involved in small retail operations. 
  • Organised unions of informal workers including auto rickshaw drivers, domestic workers, hawkers, and waste pickers in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Delhi.