ACORN continued to expand, and won major victories in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Also in the 1990's, ACORN began pursuing new directions on the political front. Through the initiative process, ACORN put strong campaign finance reform measures on the ballot and won overwhelming voter support. ACORN members also spearheaded the creation of locally-based independent parties, which put dozens of progressive candidates in office.
ACORN's long-standing concern with education reform led to the creation of alternative public schools in several cities. The ACORN schools emphasized small classes, parent involvement, and community oriented curricula.
ACORN also mounted campaigns against privatizing public schools, as well as calling for adequate funding and qualified teachers.
ACORN took the lead in organizing broad-based community and labor coalitions in support of a living wage. By the close of the 1990s, 41 cities had passed living wage laws requiring that employers who receive government contracts or subsidies pay their employees at least enough to lift a family of four above the poverty level.
The living wage campaign continued to catch fire, with coalitions forming in dozens of cities. More local ordinances and the first city-wide minimum wage initiative were passed, and a federal living wage bill was introduced but did not pass.
With ACORN no longer on the scene, other groups have carried on the fight. Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage to the level of a living wage has become an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Welfare Reform and Worker's Rights:
The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWOA) welfare "reform", sometimes called "workfare", required recipients to work in order to receive benefits. ACORN organized workfare workers to demand the same rights other workers enjoy , as well as assistance with the child care, transportation, and job training necessary to make the transition from welfare to work.
When PRWOA was up for reauthorization in 2002, ACORN played a leading role in a national campaign to improve the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. TANF had been created by PRWOA to replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, which had been in existence since 1935 .
In the 1990's, ACORN launched a new fight for fair lending, this time targeting the subprime loan industry which preys on low-income and minority neighborhoods.
In 2000, ACORN escalated the fight against predatory lending. Actions and negotiations won reforms from some of the largest subprime lenders. The campaign persisted in pressuring lenders directly and pushed for stronger laws and regulations governing the industry.
Though ACORN had eased to exist in the United States by late 2010, their work over the decades had helped build public awareness of predatory lending. That helped with support for the passage of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank, as it is often referred to, included the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending ACT (Title XIV), and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (Title X). The latter resulted in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
By the close of the 1990s, ACORN was 125,000 members strong. Affordable housing, fair lending, jobs at living wages, and better schools remained at the top of ACORN's agenda. ACORN groups continued to respond to members' concerns, addressing a wide range of issues and building power for low- and moderate-income Americans.