The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was a collection of community-based organizations in the United States that advocated for low- and moderate-income families by working on neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, affordable housing, and other social issues. ACORN had over 400,000 members and more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in over 100 cities across the U.S., as well as in Argentina, Canada, Mexico, and Peru. ACORN was founded in 1970 by Wade Rathke and Gary Delgado. Maude Hurd has been National President since 1990; Bertha Lewis was appointed CEO in 2008.
ACORN's priorities have included: better housing and wages for the poor, more community development investment from banks and governments, better public schools, labor-oriented causes and social justice issues. ACORN pursued these goals through demonstration, negotiation, lobbying for legislation, and voter participation. ACORN was composed of a number of legally distinct non-profit entities and affiliates including a nationwide umbrella organization established as a 501(c)(4) that performed lobbying; local chapters established as 501(c)(3) nonpartisan charities; and the national nonprofit and nonstock organization, ACORN Housing Corporation.
In 2009, selectively edited videos were released by two conservative activists using a hidden camera to elicit damaging responses from low-level ACORN employees that appeared to advise them how to hide prostitution activities and avoid taxes. This created a nationwide controversy resulting in a loss of funding from government and private donors.
By March 2010, 15 of ACORN's 30 state chapters had closed and at least two others had severed ties with ACORN. On March 22, 2010, ACORN announced it was closing its remaining affiliated state chapters and disbanding due to falling revenue. On December 11, 2009, a federal judge in New York, Nina Gershon, ruled that Congress had violated the Constitution when it passed a resolution barring ACORN from receiving federal funds. On August 13, 2010, a federal appeals court reversed that decision, citing a study finding that ACORN received only 10 percent of its funding from federal sources, and thus the resolution did not constitute punishment.
On November 2, 2010, ACORN filed for Chapter 7 liquidation, effectively closing the organization.