Opportunity knocks for Mayor Bellamy

In her four years on Asheville City Council and almost two years as mayor, it has become commonplace to see Terry Bellamy remove herself from Council meetings when the discussions and votes involve affordable housing. As marketing manager for Mountain Housing Opportunities—a local nonprofit that is inextricable from any discussion of affordable housing in Asheville—her participation in such votes could have been construed as a conflict of interest.

“A hundredfold”: Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, shown here in a file photo, says her departure from Mountain Housing Opportunities will free her up to become more involved in affordable-housing initiatives that come before City Council.

Well, no more, says Bellamy. Now, the mayor—who last week announced that she is resigning from MHO at the end of July—says she will bring her concerns about affordable housing to the Council table.

“It will probably increase a hundredfold,” she told Xpress last week. “Since there won’t be any conflict of interest, it frees me up to advocate even more.”

Bellamy says she will use her bully pulpit to not only advance projects already in the pipe, but also to bring her own proposals into the mix. At this point, she remains mum on any specifics, saying she wants to ramp up her outreach to the community on the issue before breaking any new ground.

“I have some ideas,” she says. “But one thing I’ve learned is, let’s see what the community believes” before taking big actions.

Bellamy says she made her decision to depart from MHO a month ago, but waited to make an announcement so that the organization, where she’s worked for 10-and-a-half years, could be prepared for the change.

“I didn’t want to go public until the staff and board was comfortable,” she says. “I didn’t want them to read about it.” In a press release announcing the development, MHO Executive Director Scott Dedman called Bellamy “a strong and passionate advocate for affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization.”

Bellamy says that she’ll be doing other work outside of her official duties for the city. She plans to help her husband, Lamont, expand his two-year-old company, Diamond Executive Transportation Service.

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