Gresham church cancels $1.48 million in Oregon medical debt
Gresham's East Hill Church has partnered with a congregation in Los Angeles to cancel $1.48 million of medical debt for people across Oregon.
"We are excited about the impact this debt cancellation is going to make in our community. Not only will the individuals experience a new financial freedom, and a weight lifted off their life, but it's also an opportunity for them to see what the character of God is really like," Keith Jenkins, lead pastor of East Hill Church said in announcing the debt cancelation.
"For many people in our communities, medical debt is a crushing weight during a most challenging time in their life. I have some personal experience in this regard with my daughter's decade long battle with lupus" Jenkins added.
East Hill and Christian Assembly Church of Los Angeles, worked with a New York-based nonprofit organization called RIP Medical Debt. The congregations purchased and canceled $1.48 million worth of unpaid medical debt owed by individuals and families in 34 counties across Oregon.
The churches paid about one penny on the dollar to purchase the debt.
East Hill and the Los Angeles church each kicked in $7,000, which came from funds donated by the congregations.
"Medical debt is one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy and contributes significantly to the likelihood of a person experiencing homelessness," Jenkins explained.
About 66% of all personal bankruptcies are tied to medical debt, according to RIP, and about 25% of all U.S. credit card debt is medical debt.
RIP Medical will also work with the credit agencies to restore the credit impact from this previously unpaid debt. By improving the person's credit, it will help them get back on their feet after their illness while making it easier to get a job, an apartment, and pay fewer fees and lower loan rates, East Hill said in an announcement.
Recipients of this debt forgiveness will receive a letter from RIP Medical Debt stating, "Our forgiveness of this debt is a no-strings-attached gift."
The letter will also explain to the recipients that they will never have the obligation to pay this debt in the future.
Across Oregon, 762 people will receive this debt forgiveness. Multnomah County will have the most dollars of debt cancelled, totaling $232,593.98 or an average of $1,540.36 per recipient.
East Hill has a long history of serving its community. East Hill gave $35,225 to My Father's House, a homeless shelter for families in 2019.
Also in 2019, East Hill supported one of the most impoverished communities in the nation, Rockwood, by giving $28,800 to the Rockwood Community Development Center, which provides ladders for people to climb from poverty to prosperity.
Each year, East Hill gives hundreds of food boxes to families in need, which amounts to over $5,000 worth of food per year. East Hill's Street Team feeds the homeless in downtown Portland every Friday, and this past year $16,800 was used by the Street Team to care for the homeless.
East Hill Church also reaches out across the globe.
The church has a long-standing relationship with a Nigerian pastor and has partnered with him to bring fresh water wells and a medical clinic to the poor in Nigeria. In 2019, East Hill also contributed $19,620 to put a roof on a Nigerian medical clinic.
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