ACORN International’s US-based Home Savers Campaign was launched, almost one year ago. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to bring social justice to renters, homeowners, and the unfortunate group of occupants that exist in between. This is an expanding group of leaseholders, rent-to-owners, and land contract holders.
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 began in Pennsylvania and has spread to Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Georgia. Within six months, 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 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 who 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 leaseholders turn in paperwork that begun the lease-to-mortgage conversion process and our original committee member, Jaime Jimenez, is in the process of closing on his mortgage now.