The following is a report from Elia who used our debt dispute tools during recent a debt clinic in Detroit. MI. If you would like to host a debt clinic, get in touch so we can support you.
Hello! Our event was a smash hit. Our main organizer, Paige, is a major badass so we had tons of community partners/resources there. So, in addition to the debt clinic, we had free food, health screenings, Medicaid sign-up, housing information, etc.
I took the lead on the Debt Clinic and had tons of support from Debt Collective organizer, Thomas. I directly helped one woman fight two of her debts which were, of course, incurred by people taking advantage/charging huge interest rates.
Beyond that, I had several productive conversations with people about their debt and walked them through our process/what they had to do to follow-up. It was a little disheartening at first because people are so used to being swindled they asked things like: “What’s the catch?” or “What does this service cost?” I’d keep having to say: “Nothing! We’re socialists and we think these financial institutions are evil. We want to use their own language against them to benefit working people.” Once I explained, the conversation definitely took a more positive turn. One couple even said: “I guess we’re socialists, too.”
At the event, I had several people ask if I could come, just me, to their community space/church to help folks out with debt relief. I told them we’d be doing the event bi-monthly but I also gave them my contact information, and I’m hoping to build some more contacts/do smaller debt clinics throughout Detroit.
Honestly, this was one of my proudest moments as an activist. The event was well-planned, well-attended and actually served the community in a meaningful way. I’m looking forward to continuing my work with the Debt Collective. Thank you so much for this tool and this community.