ACORN Housing's Response to Conservative Attacks

Last week the nation became aware of video tapes made by a conservative activist targeting ACORN and ACORN Housing Corporation field offices across the country. A secret camera was used to record informal conversations. Three of the employees seen in the tapes are ACORN Housing employees, who are observed responding to the imposter's inquiries about ways to hide an illegal enterprise.

I was horrified, just like many of you, when I saw the video. While no transaction took place in this incident -- no client files were created or billed, no loan documents were signed or submitted, no bank loans were arranged -- this is not how members of our organization should behave. The employees might not have broken any laws, but they violated the moral and ethical standards that we have set for ourselves.

We have fired or suspended all of the employees that appear in the tapes and have transferred their client files to other offices. We have suspended all Housing counseling work in the DC office until we conduct a thorough investigation of that office's activity.

While nothing excuses how a handful of our staff responded, we will use these incidents as an opportunity to ensure that ACORN Housing operates according to the highest moral and ethical standards. We are taking steps to make sure that all employees know and understand the organization's standards, the behavior required by those standards, and the procedures and policies we have in place to enforce them. We are planning an expanded series of mandatory trainings on ethical standards and behavior and have initiated a thorough review of our existing policies and procedures.

Having said that, we will not let the behavior of a few employees, out of the hundreds we have nationwide, be used by those with a political agenda to either define us or distract us from our mission. The conservative activists who made these videos chose not to show the offices where the activists were turned away like the one in Philadelphia where the staff called the police. Here is the police report for that incident:

Our mission -- to make the American dream of home ownership available to everyone who wants one and to keep people in the homes they already have -- has not changed. I am proud of the work we do. The numbers back us up. In the last 18 months, we have helped over 50,000 families in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure, with over 80% of those having low and moderate incomes. Since we started in 1986, we've assisted over 110,000 families to get mortgages and buy their first homes. We've provided mortgage counseling to at least 350,000 families. We have provided foreclosure prevention counseling to at least 26,000 people. That's the real ACORN Housing story.

We know that these conservative activists visited offices in several other cities and there may be more videos to come, but ACORN Housing takes its mission and work very seriously. If there is more action required, we will take it, but we will not lie down without a fight and that is why I am publishing the official statement we released on Friday detailing the actions we have taken so far along with the police report filed by our Philadelphia staff. Our mission is to help low income people get and keep housing and despite the attacks of right wing activists, that is what we will keep doing.