ACORN International’s US-based Home Savers Campaign was launched in 2017 with a mission to help a section of the population that has grown exponentially since the housing crisis of 2008. Many midwestern and southern Low-to-Moderate Income households signed Land Installment Contracts, believing that they were signing something that was a home mortgage. Most people thought they were buying a home.
The Home Savers Campaign began by targeting national companies that purchase foreclosed properties in bulk and then re-sell these properties to low-income and middle-income families who are not able to obtain traditional mortgages. The campaign started in Pennsylvania and has spread to Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Georgia. Within its first year, HSC successfully won a campaign with the largest company in the business and won an agreement. Currently, the HSC has expanded its reach by partnering with local organizations and universities in order to increase research and organizing capacity throughout the country. The team is made up of five organizers and 10 university interns.
We are working with our university partners to expand our campaign to target regional bad actors. Our interns help us develop a list of companies that are buying homes for cheap, in bulk, and then flipping these homes through rent-to-own/land/lease purchase contracts. Once we have this list of companies, they then construct a list of property addresses that we need to use to conduct house visits to find out if occupants are in fact in predatory contracts. If they are predatory, then the goal is to organize predatory lending victims into strong and empowered groups, to campaign against the companies who own their houses and ultimately duplicate our current agreement. The Campaign’s next step is to change regulations, corporate practices, and help convert the contract holders to mortgage holders because they currently have no rights to property title holders with equity and rights.
First big win!
The Home Savers Campaign’s first big win resulted in an agreement with the largest manager of lease-to-purchase properties. The demands won at the negotiating table in September of 2017 were:
- The company must give occupants the ability to report their on-time monthly payments (which will give them an opportunity to improve their credit score.
- HSC will work with the company to help educate and organize with the mutual goal of converting leases into mortgages.
- HSC will revise the company’s current lease-to-purchase contract and
- HSC and the company will develop creative pilot projects in different areas of the US that create affordable housing for low-to-moderate income families and result in affordable homeownership.
To date, the HSC organizing team has helped over a dozen leaseholders convert their lease to home mortgages. Our negotiating member, Jaime Jimienez, now has the title of his home in his family’s name.