How Did the Acorn Housing Program Get Started?


Quick Answer

In 1970, the ACORN housing program began in Little Rock, Arkansas, when a National Welfare Rights Organizer, Wade Rathke, began a campaign to assist welfare recipients attain their basic needs of clothing and furniture, according to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. Over time, this campaign grew into a national organization.

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Full Answer

In 1970, Rathke created the Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now to unite welfare recipients with the working poor around common issues, including free school lunches for children, Vietnam Veterans’ rights and unemployed workers’ concerns, as ACORN explains. Quickly, the organization grew as it established six regional offices in Arkansas and focused on small town, rural issues and local election politics, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. During the 1970s and 1980s, the organization continued to branch out into new states and entered national politics on the behalf of low- to moderate-income families, as ACORN describes.

In the 1990s, under the Community Reinvestment Act, ACORN confronted discriminatory lending practices and sought to obtain affordable housing for low- to moderate-income families, and it worked with the federal government and various banks to provide home loans to groups often denied funding, as the Chicago Tribune reports. The federal government provided subsidies under the Affordable Housing Program, and ACORN also worked with banks to rehabilitate and sell abandoned houses.

ACORN disbanded in 2010. The organization faced allegations of fraud, as the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture indicates.

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