ACORN Housing released a video on YouTube, in which an employee from the housing counseling agency’s Philadelphia office describes an alleged encounter with filmmaker James O’Keefe.
ACORN — The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now — has come under fire after O’Keefe released a series of online videos he said he filmed using undercover cameras while posing as a pimp. The videos appear to show ACORN Housing employees telling O’Keefe and an associate how to falsify Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documents and obtain a mortgage to open a brothel.
ACORN Housing's video response comes near the end of a week of press coverage. Earlier this week, the Senate voted to block ACORN and its subsidiaries from receiving federal funds in a pending appropriations bill.
In the video released Thursday, ACORN Housing office director Katherine Conway Russell said O’Keefe came to the group’s Philadelphia office in July.
“After asking several general questions, he [O’Keefe] then began to veer off into suspicious territory,” Russell said. “Unlike the videos that he has been showing on the Internet, we refused to help him and called the police and filed this report.”
On two occasions during the three-minute video, Russell holds up a document she said is a police report her office filed during the alleged incident with O’Keefe. The video is available to view below.
In a statement, ACORN Housing said its evaluating its policies and procedures in light of the incident and has suspended intake classes for first-time homebuyers until all housing counseling staff have been received additional training. A quality control team is in the process of visiting all ACORN Housing offices to ensure the retraining is implemented.
An e-mail to O’Keefe seeking comment was not immediately returned at the time this story was published.
Write toAustin Kilgore.
Eight years after we began recognizing women for their influential work in the expanding housing and mortgage finance ecosystem, a traditionally male-dominated field, our Women of Influence list is bigger and better than ever! This year, we honor 85 women who are making lasting achievements in each sector of the housing economy. Read on to learn more about these accomplished women and the strides they are making in their industry segments.
The financial world at large is experimenting with changing its workforce culture in ways not fathomable 10 years ago. For example, in 2011, the dress code for female workers at UBS came to light with unflattering results. In it, the Swiss bank instructed female employees on not just how to dress and how to smell, but also preached the importance for ladies to apply lotion after taking showers. Fast forward to today and fellow Swiss bank, Credit Suisse has now created an official role to boost equal opportunities and create a fair treatment environment. Has the American mortgage industry made similar progress?
The conversation around student loan debt and its economic impact on Millennials, those born from 1980 to 1998, has some questioning whether the future of the American Dream is in jeopardy. The nation’s student loan debt has soared to $1.4 trillion, surpassing credit cards in becoming the largest source of personal debt outside a mortgage.