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My wife and I have been residents in the Nicholtown community for a little over ten years. We love our neighbors and feel blessed beyond measure to live in our neighborhood. However, the rumors are true - Nicholtown is nearly unrecognizable today from what it was ten years ago. Two-story homes tower where green spaces once were. Countless affordable homes have been sold to developers eager to put entire families out on the street with just thirty days notice…
If you think you sense some angst in my voice, you don’t - it’s ache.
We’ve spent several days this past week weeping as dear friends received these letters. Single mothers with children, elderly residents (one resident in her 90’s). The question I’ve been asking myself lately seems so elementary… When did this kind of behavior become acceptable? How did this become okay? It should be indefensible. This is what’s happening… The wealthy purchase humble homes that families of humble means can afford. They kick them out (women and children) by the legal authority of the state. Why? So they can paint the walls, replace the cabinets and raise the rent three-fold and lease it to a wealthier family. That’s what is happening. Let’s call it what it is.
To my Christian brothers and sisters: Jesus called us to prioritize the vulnerable, and in doing so, he said we would be serving him. Yet we (corporately speaking) are choosing to prioritize the wealthy, and in doing so, we are serving ourselves. We are actively taking homes away from the poor and giving them to the rich. We are making the vulnerable more vulnerable, and lining our pockets in the process. Our communities are bleeding affordable housing at a lethal rate, and we’re the ones driving in the knife. It doesn’t have to be this way!
So why don’t we stop?
I mean, how does something so evil become so insidious? Something bad becomes pervasive after it becomes invisible. How does it become invisible? It becomes normal. When we adopt an evil practice as a society, it doesn’t take long for us to experience a sort of amnesia, forgetting how unloving that practice actually is. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point we started viewing houses as investments in a portfolio, rather than homes in a community. When a home becomes a house, a person becomes a commodity. They become nothing more than an item to be rearranged in order to increase profit margins for that investor. And given our country's history of commodifying people, it’s hard not to sense the spirit of slavery reverberating into our present moment. An indefensible evil, hiding in plain sight. Old habits die hard.
God help us.
There’s more I will say on the topic, but my heart is too heavy right now. For those of you who pray, please pray for the 5 families who received a notice this week. They are looking for homes. Email me if you can help.