Last year, friends of ours missed out on a house at auction – it went for $10K more than they could afford. Snapped up by a motivated bidder, it could be bulldozed for units, rented out or made over and re-sold.

This is happening more and more in Long Gully. With cute miners’ cottages and an ageing population headed for the grave or the nearest nursing home (currently expanding as we speak), young families, singles and investors will fight among themselves to grab the bargains. It’s even made the local news.

This trend raises serious questions for me and the others here in our little Christian community, who bought houses to commit to Long Gully. Are we simply an enclave of the middle-class within a poor community? Serving as the advance party of an army of gentrification which will put the poor into enforced exile?

What are we living in a poorer community for? The only legitimately Christian reason I can come up with is either that we ourselves are poor and can afford nowhere else, or that we seek to be in transformational solidarity with the poor. Otherwise, we’re only here for cheap land.

Robert Lupton, of the Christian Community Development Association, found himself in exactly the same position. He reflects on this in his book “Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life”:

Resisting gentrification is like trying to hold back the rising ocean tide…If market forces alone are allowed to rule the day, the poor will be gradually, silently displaced, for the market has no conscience. But those who do understand God’s heart for the poor have a historic challenge to infuse the values of compassion and justice into the process. But it will require altogether new paradigms of ministry.