Goodwill campaign frees thousands of Americans from $15m of debt

A group of former Occupy Wall Street activists have abolished nearly $15m (£9m) of Americans’ medical debt as part of a goodwill campaign to free debtors at random

Thousands of Americans are free from debt thanks to a grassroots project called Rolling Jubilee.

It has raised $700,000 (£422,000) by crowdsourcing money to buy consumer debt on the secondary debt market for a fraction of its original value. It then spent $300,000 (£181,000) wiping out almost $15m (£9m).

So far, 3,801 people have benefited in 46 states and Puerto Rico, according to organisers.

“It was a godsend. I didn’t know these people,” 80-year-old Kentucky resident Shirley Logsdon told Agence France-Presse, after her medical bill was paid off.
According to Rolling Jubilee, 62% of bankruptcies are caused by medical illness.
The campaign is a project of Strike Debt – a group of former Occupy Wall Street activists in the US, who campaign for economic justice and democratic freedom.

Rolling Jubilee Fund vice president Thomas Gokey said: “We have no moral obligation to pay a debt to an investor who purchased our debt on average at 4% and then claims we owe 100%.”

However, critics say the campaign fuels the secondary debt market and fails to expose other reasons for consumer debt.

But Rolling Jubilee exceeded expectations. The original goal was to raise $50,000 (£30,000) and abolish $1m (£600,000). It now plans to eradicate other types of debt, such as student loans.