Asheville’s rising housing cost forces candidate out of City Council race weeks before primary

OUT OF THE RACE: Taylon Breeden announced she would no longer run for City Council on Feb. 20. Photo courtesy of Breeden

by Laura Hackett,

Affordable housing was a centerpiece of Taylon Breeden’s 2024 campaign for Asheville City Council.

On Feb. 20, the candidate and small business owner announced she will pull out of the race due to her “struggle to find long-term affordable housing within the city.”

In a phone interview, Breeden, who runs The Pot Stirred cafe in the River Arts District, said that she has been in “survival mode” looking for a place to live. In the fall, the house she was renting was sold, forcing her to move out, she said. She found a temporary solution through a seasonal rental this winter, but Breeden said that house shifts into an Airbnb during spring, summer and fall, which has forced her to continue her search.

“It’s a very new feeling for me and I think I was embarrassed to let people know,” she said of her difficulty in finding housing. “But it’s important that I tell the story because it is relatable and we’re all facing it so harshly right now.”

According to North Carolina statute, a candidate must live in city limits to serve on Asheville City Council.

The Fair Market Rent — the estimated federal cost for rent and utility of 40% of rentals — for a one-bedroom apartment in the Asheville metro area has increased from $799 in 2019 to $1,496 in 2024, according to data from HUD. That’s a nearly 90% increase.

Access to affordable housing is even more difficult for households that make below 50% of the area median income, according to a 2023 report from Thrive Asheville. Depending on household size, that’s between $30,000 and $42,500 in Asheville.

The report found that three-quarters of new affordable housing built between 2018 and 2022 was for households that made above 60% of the area median income. The disparity disproportionately impacts local Black, Hispanic and Latino households who tend to make significantly less than $40,000 annually.

Breeden recalls when she first moved to Asheville in 2015, she rented a two-bedroom house for $800, a situation that’s near-impossible now.

“It just shows us how much that this [affordable housing crisis] has to be our priority,” she said. “I think we need to do a better job with regulating the Airbnbs.”

She continued, “We have to continue to build housing if we want to lower the cost, but for our locals to stay we have to implement some sort of higher percentage of affordable housing and it doesn’t just need to be 80% of what others can afford, it has to be for lower incomes.”

This is Breeden’s fourth time running for office. In 2018, she ran for a Buncombe County Board of Commissioners seat. In 2022, she ran for state senate in District 49 and lost to Julie Mayfield (D). The same year, she also ran and lost in a special election to replace N.C. Rep. Susan Fisher (D) in District 116, a seat won by Caleb Rudow (D).

Without Breeden, there are seven candidates vying for three open seats in this year’s City Council election. Incumbents Kim Roney and Sage Turner are running for reelection while current vice mayor and councilwoman Sandra Kilgore has opted not to run again.

CJ Domingo, Tod Leaven, Bo Hess, Kevan Frazier and Iindia Pearson are all running in the primary. In-person early voting for the primary election kicked off on February 15 and election day is Tuesday, March 5. The top six candidates will move on to the general election.

Breeden said she will endorse and vote for incumbent Kim Roney in this year’s City Council race.

See Breeden’s full statement on her decision to exit the race: 

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my withdrawal from the Asheville City Council race,” she wrote in a statement on Tuesday. The struggle to find long-term affordable housing within the city, a challenge shared by countless artists and locals, has led me to this decision. I remain committed to advocating for a more accessible safe housing market for all. Thank you for your understanding and support. This has not been an easy decision.”


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13 thoughts on “Asheville’s rising housing cost forces candidate out of City Council race weeks before primary

  1. Peirce

    Every candidate first words about why they are running is affordable housing. Yet none offer ideas which haven’t been tried before. And losing as much as she has, maybe stop running. Seems like whoever you vote for this cycle is no different than who we have in council already. Buzz words! Closed pools, trash and crime. Asheville deserves everything that it gets when you vote for type of people who currently run this city.

    • indy499

      Actually there are a couple non nuts running for a change. They have no chance I’m sure

      • T100

        I wondered if she was yet another in the line white women socialists all from the same cookie cutter. Her endorsement of Roney answered that YES and that she doesn’t think the council is far enough left yet.

  2. Yo Asheville Mama

    Sad that she is endorsing Roney after opting out of the race. Roney continuously votes down affordable housing construction because of ______ (what exactly?). She pushed for the $5million dollar electric busses on the taxpayer’s dime that are now sitting useless and the company has since filed bankruptcy. Roney is in it for herself, not a good look for a candidate who continuously says “my neighbors” or “our community”. I can only hope the community has seen through her egregious self promotion while on council. I think King Paul Howell said it best at the last meeting.

    • Keith

      The Electric Municipal Buses have been serving the airport and Black Mountain routes for several years saving on fuel and maintenance costs. The pollution reduction innovation company Proterra’s bankruptcy has now cleared and the bus manufacturing and parts side of the business is catching up on backlogs. The battery and charging manufacturing side is now part of the Volvo Group in Greensboro which includes Mack Truck.

      • Alan Ditmore

        Electrics should stay in cities, where they are best suited and most appreciated. Black Mountain certainly isn’t in the city and the airport is pushing it. There are certainly shorter and more urban routes better suited to electrics.

  3. indy499

    Breeden, just do like Whitesides did and lie. No one cared then. Of course, you may be treated differently.

    • Keith

      You must be mistaking another elected official by accusing ANYONE named Whitesides of lying about residency requirements for office holding. People on the Internet should not unjustly make inflammatory accusations.

      • Alan Ditmore

        She beats the Meadows standard by miles and should stay in, unless she’s a zoner.

  4. Enlightened Enigma

    Elected democrackkks DESTROY cities, counties, states and countries. It is their EVIL agenda from local to Congress.

    • Hiram

      And in many other regions/states that resemble Asheville of 20-30 years ago. Go forth and conquer!

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