Today, ACORN Housing Corporation released the following statement:
ACORN Housing called the cops on 'filmmaker'
ACORN Housing responds to recent allegations, releases video interview with staff
Washington, DC - ACORN Housing today released a video of one of its staff giving her side of what happened when 'filmmaker' James O'Keefe visited the Philadelphia office. Ms. Katherine Conway Russell was approached by O'Keefe and when she realized he was not asking about a valid housing issue, she asked him to leave and called the police. "Last July James O'Keefe who has been in the news lately with videos from other ACORN offices came into our office," said Russell, "Unlike the videos he has been showing on the internet, we refused to help him and called the police and filed a report."
That can now be seen here.
A copy of the police report can be seen here.
"We were appalled and angry to see the video of employees offering advice on how to operate an illegal enterprise. While no transaction took place - no loan documents were signed or submitted, no bank loans were arranged, no new business was established - this is not how our staff should behave.
All ACORN Housing staff members undergo rigorous training and are expected to comply with high standards for ethical behavior and compliance with the law," said Mike Shea, Executive Director of ACORN Housing, "but the video tape is slanted to misinform the public about ACORN Housing. The people who made this tape went to at least five other ACORN Housing offices where they were turned away or where ACORN Housing employees responded by calling the police."
ACORN Housing has taken the following steps:
• A new copy of our guidelines and standards has been sent to all staff, everyone is required to sign a form acknowledging they have read and understand our standards and will comply with them.
• Group intake classes for first-time homebuyers have been suspended until all staff have had a chance to complete an enhanced training on our procedures and standards.
• A quality control team is being assembled that will visit all ACORN Housing offices nationwide to insure their policies and procedures meet our standards.
• The Washington, DC staff members have been fired and the New York employees have been suspended while we are conducting an internal investigation.
• We have initiated an internal review of our policies and materials to insure all staff knows how to handle sensitive situations.
• All ACORN Housing training materials will be re-evaluated and expanded to include an enhanced ethics section to provide more guidance.
Founded in 1986, ACORN Housing has counseled more than 350,000 low and moderate income families across the U.S., over 100,000 of which have become homeowners. ACORN Housing has 29 offices in 24 states.