Editor’s note: As of 2:22 p.m. Jan 14, all of the Jan. 18 meetings mentioned below have been canceled. Buncombe County did not list a reason for the cancellations in a notice announcing the change.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Buncombe County has doled out more than $7.8 million in emergency rental assistance to nearly 3,000 residents in need. Pending a vote by the county Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 18, nearly $2.3 million in additional funds are on the way.
The extra allocation comes from North Carolina’s state government, which designated the money for the purpose from its pot of federal coronavirus relief funding. Of the total award, about $114,000 will support administrative costs for Buncombe’s Health & Human Services.
Eligible families must apply by the end of September and can receive up to a year of aid for rent and utilities. To qualify for help, applicants must demonstrate financial loss due to the pandemic and make no more than 200% of the federal poverty level ($52,400 annually for a family of four). More information is available by calling 828-250-5500.
Commissioners will also vote on accepting nearly $1.9 million from the state for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, which helps eligible households pay their heating bills. The bulk of that money, about $1.7 million, will be used for automated payments to households with children up to 10 years old that received LIEAP funds last fiscal year.
In other news
Two contracts up for approval Jan. 18 will authorize the start of work on improvements at area schools. Vannoy Construction is set to conduct over $3.2 million in capital maintenance work at A-B Tech, while South Carolina-based FitFields would receive about $112,000 for designing the replacement of Asheville High School’s athletic track.
Also listed on the agenda is an “Affordable Housing Subcommittee funding recommendation,” although no documents were linked as of press time. At the subcommittee’s Jan. 4 meeting, members heard a presentation on area homelessness services, but the slides did not list any spending plans.
Consent agenda and public comment
The board’s consent agenda for the meeting contains four items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Along with the routine approval of meeting minutes, the agenda includes the transfer of a retired K-9 from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office to his handler, Deputy Mark Whitted.
The commissioners will also meet at 1 p.m. to conduct interviews for the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee and hold a briefing at 3 p.m. before the regular meeting to discuss Buncombe’s COVID-19 response and other matters. The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link.
In-person public comment will be taken at the start of the regular meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. in Room 326 at 200 College St. in Asheville; no voicemail or email comments will be permitted. Both the briefing and regular meeting will be livestreamed on the county’s Facebook page and will subsequently be available via YouTube.