In a demonstration and cookout on Saturday, Dec. 22, in the River Arts District, locals will call for the city of Asheville to do something positive with an abandoned property known as the Ice House.
"We're suggesting the city of Asheville turn the property turn into housing for homeless vets, people who have vouchers from Section 8 or the VA," says activist John Penley, one of the event organizers. He's a veteran and despite having a voucher, he reports having trouble finding a place to live. "People who are getting those vouchers are having a hard time."
The city finalized its purchase of the long-derelict site after a late October murder occurred there.
With Asheville City Council set to vote on the sale on Jan. 8, Penley says demonstrators simply plan to highlight a need and suggest a solution. At the same time, they'll provide participants with a hot holiday meal, he explains.
"It's be great if there was a drop-in center besides the housing, a place for people to get warm that's not the public library," Penley continues. Asheville lacks many programs that could help veterans in need, he notes.
"We have no safe haven for chronically homeless people in this area," says John Spitzberg, of the Asheville Homeless Network. "In our opinion, the city takes no responsibility for the chronically homeless and those who won't be housed anytime soon. [The old Ice House] could be a place where the city could expend funds to help the chronically homeless."
To date, according to city spokesperson Dawa Hitch, there aren't any specific plans for how to use the property beyond purchasing it.
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