A Southern California congregation collected more than $5 million to pay off medical debt for 5,555 patients as a Christmas gift to the people of Los Angeles. The Christian Assembly Church in Eagle Rock, California, mapped out 28 neighbourhoods in Los Angeles and worked with a non-profit organisation, RIP medical debt, to figure out the debt of financially struggling families.
The church found out that people in those neighbourhoods earning less than half of the federal poverty level had accumulated over $5 million of medical debt. The church announced that it has purchased all the debt, unanimously approved by elders, and forgave every dollar in lieu of one penny. “Because of the generosity of the people at Christian Assembly Church, we are able to give a Christmas gift to the people of Los Angeles, no strings attached,” says co-pastor Tom Hughes in a video announcement.
The pending debt of such families have also damaged their credit score but now the RIP medical debt will work with credit unions to repair the damage and lift the credit score of each person. The improved score will help people get a job and apartment easily after they recover from their illness. “People affected in the 28 neighbourhoods are getting letters this week with the good news. This will impact over 5,000 households across the area!” said the Church in a statement.
According to the church, 60 per cent of personal bankruptcies in the United States are because of the medical bills which makes it one of the leading cause of homelessness. It has destroyed the financial stability of many households, especially vulnerable people such as elderly, sich, poor and veterans. “God is for you and we are excited to share this gift of generosity because of the generosity of our God,” said Hughes. “As they recover from their illness, it will help them get back on their feet and avoid homelessness,” he added.