Ahab said, “Naboth, your vineyard is near my palace. Give it to me so I can turn it into a vegetable garden. I’ll give you a better vineyard or pay whatever you want for yours.” Naboth answered, “This vineyard has always been in my family. I won’t let you have it.”
1 Kings 21:2–3 (CEV)
Read 1 Kings 21:1–29 to see what happened next. It wasn’t pretty.
It isn’t pretty in 21st century America either. Gentrification happens when developers purchase property in low-income neighborhoods, refurbish it, and sell it at higher prices to upper- and middle-class purchasers. At first, the change looks great. Art studios, swanky lofts, and quirky coffee shops replace rundown houses and shoestring businesses. But what happens to the families who are persuaded or forced to sell to developers? How will low-income community residents survive when the stores and restaurants around them price goods for wealthier consumers?
Urban planners can develop economically depressed areas in ways that help current residents without displacing them. In my community, city leaders, churches, non-profits, and construction companies are joining together to provide affordable housing options that work for everyone.
If the gospel is “good news to the poor,” how can you help to bring good news to neighborhoods defined by systemic poverty without jeopardizing their culture and livelihood?
DO SOMETHING: If your church or community supports affordable housing development in low-income neighborhoods, get involved. If not, consider proposing the idea.