The Debt Collective is the first debtors’ union in the United States. We organize debtors across the country to build a movement that fights back against an economic system that plunges disabled people, especially those at the intersections of multiple marginalized communities, into overwhelming predatory debt — student loans, medical, housing, utilities, incarceration. These debts prey on our needs and extract from us as much as possible through the mundane violence of rules and policies designed to increase profits. Our goal is to support those struggling within the system and develop grassroots reparative solutions towards creating truly public social goods.
Disabled people are intimately familiar with the debt crises facing our country. These crises are products of a predatory system that forces us to take on massive debts for access to basic goods and services. The mechanisms and programs in place to offer relief to disabled debtors function largely as weak, temporary fixes. As with all assistance programs in the US for disabled people, any debt relief available is by nature means-tested, punitive, and insufficient. These systems are designed to force disabled people into poverty and keep them there.
We are a core group of disabled organizers who have experienced the frustrations, bewilderment, and exhaustion of navigating debt and disability systems all over the US. We are creating spaces where people can come together for peer support and to explore and unravel the connections between debt and disability. We will share our experiences of debt with one another free of judgment, connecting with people in the same situation, conducting teach-ins, and introducing people to under-advertised programs.