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Katrina Destroys ACORN HQ

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[UPDATE 9-14-05 — ACORN is sponsoring a town hall meeting September 20 at the UNITE HERE union hall, 333 S. Ashland, featuring hurricane survivors who are sheltered in Chicago along with local ACORN leaders and elected officials.

Thousands of displaced Gulf Coast residents are in Chicago, said Katelyn Johnson of ACORN, and “many of them feel they’re not receiving the quality of care they need,” she said. “They’re thankful for the food and clothing they’re getting, but they’re feeling like they’re being warehoused.”

The mental health facilities and homeless shelters where they have been sent “are not a solution,” Johnson said. “They want to rebuilt their lives and they want to get started right now.”]

ACORN chapters in Chicago and around the country are organizing to assist members from Gulf states in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed the organization’s national headquarters in New Orleans.

Since ACORN organizes in low-income communities, its 9,000 member families in New Orleans were among the most vulnerable to the hurricane’s effects. Many have relocated to the Houston area, where local ACORN members are sharing their homes, said Katelyn Johnson in ACORN’s Chicago office. Other ACORN chapters are organizing to provide housing and assistance to members, she said.

“ACORN has lost our national headquarters in this catastrophe,” said ACORN President Maude Hurd in a statement on the organization’s website. “We have lost hundreds if not thousands of people in ACORN communities, and been shocked into action by the slow pace of rescue and relief.

“We are committed to finding our members and to rebuilding our headquarters, and to organize everyone affected by the storm to have a voice when decisions are made about the recovery,” said Hurd.

Last week ACORN chapters conducted protests, vigils, and meetings at Congressional offices pressuring the government to act faster save lives by providing needed food and water, according to the website.

ACORN has established a Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding Fund, and Chicago members will be out collecting donations this weekend in Austin, Englewood, and Little Village, where the group has chapters, Johnson said.