To represent the interests of low-income and working-class Americans.
In 1970, by a coalition of leaders with backgrounds in union activism and civil rights work.
ACORN is organized at the neighborhood level--400,000 households belonging to 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 American cities. Local residents meet regularly to discuss and organize on issues impacting their lives.
ACORN is arguably the most effective organization operating today on the traditional neighborhood-based community organizing model, and one of the very few organizations specifically dedicated to the interests of all low-income and working-class Americans.
In advance of the 2008 national elections, ACORN staff and volunteers organized one of the largest voter registration drives in U.S. history--1.3 million new voters, most from low-income communities, were registered. Unfortunately, a handful of staffers or volunteers registered obviously false ballots in an effort to get compensation or credit for registering a higher number of voters than they actually had.
The criticism of ACORN, part of a broader 2008 Republican polemic against community organizers, represents an attempt to challenge the increased participation of low-income and minority voters (who tend to vote Democratic) and should not be taken seriously. ACORN is a fine organization, but--as is true of all real grassroots organizations--its leadership can't control the behavior of individual members.