Demonstration will call for city to turn ice plant into housing for the homeless

Demonstration will call for city to turn ice plant into housing for the homeless-attachment0

Photo by Zen Sutherland

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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8 thoughts on “Demonstration will call for city to turn ice plant into housing for the homeless

  1. Bob

    Terrible idea. Sorry – I’d like to take care of the homeless as much as the next pseudo-socialist, but this building is not a solution.

  2. Big Al

    Pro: this would move a lot of the panhandlers away from downtown where they pester the toursts.

    Con: this would move a lot of the panhandlers into the RAD where they would pester the tourists.

    I am torn.

  3. hauntedheadnc

    Why would the city — why would anyone — spend hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate a building on the verge of collapse in order to turn it into a homeless shelter, when it would be cheaper to build housing for the homeless from scratch?

    The only possible way this building would be saved would be if someone could make a profit from doing so. Otherwise, it’s too far gone. Down it will go, and we only get to keep the smokestack if we’re lucky.

  4. hauntedheadnc

    Why would the city — why would anyone — spend hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate a building on the verge of collapse in order to turn it into a homeless shelter, when it would be cheaper to build housing for the homeless from scratch?

    The only possible way this building would be saved would be if someone could make a profit from doing so. Otherwise, it’s too far gone. Down it will go, and we only get to keep the smokestack if we’re lucky.

    • heather

      My sentiments exactly. Its a huge expense just to tear it down, renovating is just too costly of a project for city gov’t to take on.
      I am sure there is available land on which non-profits can build shelters.
      This building is unsafe and needs to come down quickly. Period.

  5. John Penley

    We don’t care if the actual building is torn down or not we just want more low income housing especially for homeless vets. Actually, I am sure we could get volunteer labor from Vets for Peace and other groups to renovate it and the city is going to buy it anyway so comment on that. Honestly, if you don’t have any sympathy for homeless veterans be honest just say it.

  6. John Penley

    What a nice gathering we had down by the river in Asheville. The funniest thing was there were 2 Asheville cop cars guarding the abandoned Ice House even though we never had plans to go in it. We cooked some good food and cars stopped and gave money which went into the pockets of the homeless people who were there and camp down by the river about 25 dollars. A woman came by who was leaving town and dropped of boxes and boxes of food, some went to other homeless people and a man who stopped by on a scooter who left with as much food as he could carry and some went to the river camp and some went to the Asheville Homeless Network office. All in all a great afternoon. Merry Xmas. Also a lump of coal to Susan and other Asheville liberal Democrats who gave me S about this and posted negative comments on this article about the party / protest.

  7. hauntedheadnc

    John Penley,

    I posted a response to your comment last night, but it appears to have not gone through, so now I’ve got to ask — why would you assume I don’t care about homeless veterans simply because I think you could do more with less money and house more people by building something new somewhere out of the flood plain?

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