My first job out of college in 2008 was at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), or Freddie Mac for short. As a young college graduate, I was completely naïve as to what it truly meant to own a home in this country. I certainly had no clue of the kinds of injustices that afflicted many communities and their chances of home ownership, but Freddie Mac’s mission was to “Make Home Possible,” and that sounded like as good of a mission as any. I took the job thinking that I would be making a positive contribution to our society.
I can still remember when the subprime mortgage crisis exploded that summer. Here I was just trying to get my career started, and all of my colleagues would talk as if the whole company would be closed down the next day. I did my best to make sense of the news, but my ignorance often got in the way. I had little understanding then of the drastic and longstanding impacts the crisis would have. Looking back now, I can see why there was so much anger directed toward my former employer. Their stated mission was in direct opposition to the role they played in an economic disaster that caused immeasurable harm to so many people.
I’ve thought often of my experience at Freddie Mac in recent months. In some strange act of Divine providence, it seems that this mission – to “Make Home Possible” – was implanted deeper on my heart than I had realized.
When our family moved to Indianapolis last year to plant a church, I knew early on that we would need to pay close attention to the kinds of housing and economic injustices that are inevitably at play in the city. Our family has long desired to plant a just Christian community which seeks the good and flourishing of its immediate neighbors. Having learned more about the legacy of redlining and other unjust practices, as well as the mechanics of gentrification, I was particularly interested in how such a just Christian community might be able to help “Make Home Possible” in a rapidly gentrifying city like Indianapolis.
All of these efforts have pressed me again and again into wrestling with one simple question: Does Jesus care about gentrification?