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Like a con artist trying to escape his past, ACORN Housing legally changed its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA) two years ago after the devastating “pimp and pro” videos surfaced in 2009. In those undercover videos created by conservative activists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles ACORN and ACORN Housing employees were shown offering helpful advice on setting up a brothel for pedophiles and breaking other laws. A year later the controlling entity in the ACORN network, ACORN Inc., filed for bankruptcy after Congress cut off its taxpayer funding and left-leaning foundations ran away from it.
After a reliable source in the progressive movement confirmed the demise of AHCOA to this writer, Chicago-based writer Mike Volpe (who blogs as The Provocateur) visited the group’s headquarters at 209 West Jackson Boulevard in the Windy City last week. Volpe confirmed that the nonprofit corporation is no longer there. Building management advised him that the last AHCOA staff members vacated the premises almost two months ago.
Efforts to reach ACORN Housing personnel, including executive director Mike Shea, have been unsuccessful. AHCOA’s website (ahcoa.org) is down and the nonprofit’s Twitter feed hasn’t been updated since August of last year. Senior staff abandoned ship months ago. AHCOA’s public affairs director Bruce Dorpalen left the nonprofit in April to become executive director at the National Housing Resource Center in Philadelphia. AHCOA’s director of operations Martin Shalloo also left earlier this year.
As of June 30, 2010, AHCOA was in the red by almost $2.5 million according to its most recent publicly available tax return. AHCOA and its subsidiaries owed an eye-popping $162,813 in back taxes as of July 2011. The money was owed to the IRS, California,Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania,Texas, Washington, the city of Philadelphia, and the California counties of Fresno and Santa Clara.
AHCOA has been in the news recently. Last month it was reported that the Obama administration funneled $446 million in taxpayer money to ACORN alumnus Joe McGavin, now a director at the Illinois Housing Development Authority. As Judicial Watch discovered, McGavin was “Chicago Operations Manager” at Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA) from November 2008 through January 2011.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, a longtime ACORN ally from his days as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s housing development commissioner, steered millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to his old friends at ACORN. Donovan is just one of several Obama cabinet members who did everything but bow down and grovel before Al Sharpton at the convention his group, National Action Network, held earlier this year in Washington, D.C.
For years ACORN Housing was the largest branch of the corrupt ACORN empire of activism.
ACORN Housing constructed hundreds of low-income housing units in Chicago, Dallas,Little Rock, and Phoenix. In New York City, New York ACORN Housing Co. owned 700 low-income units.
ACORN Housing was a cash cow for the ACORN network, providing significant funding for Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizing. Since 1997, ACORN Housing shelled out more than $5.1 million in fees or grants to other entities in the ACORN network.
These intra-network transactions were troubling because out of all of ACORN’s affiliates, ACORN Housing was the most dependent on taxpayers for support and had a long history of abusing taxpayer funds. In 2008 alone, over 67 percent of gift and grants to ACORN Housing came from the federal government and Bank of America.
A 1997 congressional report noted that taxpayer-supported “AmeriCorps members of [ACORN Housing] raised funds for ACORN, performed voter registration activities, and gave partisan speeches. In one instance, an AmeriCorps member was directed by ACORN staff to assist the [Clinton] White House in preparing a press conference in support of legislation.”
As I wrote in my book Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, ACORN Housing grew out of the crime of squatting (a.k.a. redistribution-by-trespassing). The nonprofit emerged from a series of activist projects in which ACORN built a squatters’ tent city behind the White House in 1982.
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