Buncombe Commissioners hear $7.2 million in nonprofit grant requests

BUDGET FINALIZED: The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved a budget during its meeting June 21. The spending plan includes a property tax hike of 2.6 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners heard funding requests from 48 local nonprofits at its Tuesday, Feb. 16 budget workshop — a part of the county’s community funding program.

Each nonprofit had three minutes to present — five minutes if the nonprofit had more than one funding request — and the Board listened intently and without discussion, moving seamlessly down the list from smallest to highest funding amount.

This year’s requests total $7.2 million, up from last year’s $4.2 — of which $2.6 million was granted.

Of those 48, only two organizations asked for more than $1 million in funding: the Asheville Art Museum and the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry. Ten organizations asked for between $100,000 and $600,000. Nineteen asked for $50,000-99,000. Twelve asked for $10,000-40,000. And five asked for a sum between $1,500 and $10,000.

Many of the nonprofits presenting have received county funds before, and some were back requesting funding for projects not approved for the last fiscal year — such as ABCCM’s $600,000 in 2015 for its transformation village (for which the organization now requests only $550,000).

Asheville Art Museum

Requesting nearly $2.2 million for its expansion and renovation, the Asheville Art Museum closed out the evening’s workshop with the largest request of the night.

Pam Myers, executive director of the museum, explained that the funding will “create ‘the new Asheville Art Museum.’ … Like other economic development projects,” she said, the expected return will be worth the investment.

Myers said the museum will bring $7 million per year in economic impact to the county following the expansion, with additional monetary and job creation impact during its construction.

“We know that Buncombe County values education and the arts, and takes great pride in its partnerships,” Myers said.

The museum will remain open during this project.

Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry

Executive Director Rev. Scott Rogers presented ABCCM’s request for $1.2 million before the Board, detailing the four separate projects that money would help along.

Standing at the podium, Rogers gestured to the sea of organizational representatives behind him and stated that he’d seen plenty of familiar faces presenting that evening. ABCCM “collaborates and helps fill the gaps because that’s what we do best in this community,” he said.

The largest of ABCCM’s projects, the transformation village, will require $550,000 in county funds and, in its first phase, will provide 112 homeless women and children with housing, in a facility with 26 hotel-style rooms and 20 two-bedroom apartments.

ABCCM has already purchased the land needed to construct the village at the price of $960,000, and the nonprofit expects to complete construction by Dec. 1, 2016.

Phase two will bring in 60 one-bedroom apartments and an additional 20 two-bedroom apartments, altogether making a total of 292 beds at the facility, doubling the number of people the nonprofit is currently able to serve.

At the price of $350,000, ABCCM also asked the county to help build its veteran village, which serves a similar purpose but serves the struggling veterans of Buncombe County.

“Fifty-nine men and women veterans [with Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers] are ready to move out on their own, with jobs, stable income — but no place to go,” Rogers said. The plan is to build 44 units to house these individuals.

Homeward Bound of WNC

Requesting a total of $527,756 for three projects, Homeward Bound’s Director of Advancement, Jim Lowder, presented the organization’s case to the Board.

“Secure housing is foundational for human wellbeing and growth,” he explained. “When we’re tired and exhausted, as we are now, we all can go home. We have a place to rest and nourish ourselves. When it’s raining and cold and snowing, we don’t have to worry about sleeping in our cars — or have to jump through hoops … to get a shelter bed.

“Our proposal has three parts, all based on national best practices, that cover a spectrum of services from [shelters] to permanent housing:” funding for the AHOPE Day Center, funding for Project Rebound and a project to end chronic homelessness in Buncombe County by 2017.

Though ending chronic homelessness is no easy task, and Homeward Bound is dedicating the largest chunk of their funding request, $357,756, to this project.

“This project will specifically move chronically homeless individuals and families referred by the community’s Coordinated Assessment System into housing,” reads a line from the request. “This project will also implement a new emerging strategy of housing those individuals and families experiencing chronic homelessness into a short- to medium-term housing intervention called ‘rapid rehousing’ first, as funds for this program are more readily available than funding for permanent supportive housing or long term rental assistance.”

Rapid rehousing gives struggling individuals an 18-month period of stable housing to help them get on their feet, and, should they need help after that, longer-term housing will be made available on a case-by-case basis.

“Federal funds pay deposits, utilities and rent, but not for staff,” Lowder said. Homeward Bound is requesting “funding for our housing case managers to provide support” to those served by these projects and to “leverage dollars we’ve already secured from the federal government to help individuals to stabilize their lives.”

Tough decisions

For the 2015/2016 fiscal year, Buncombe County approved 62 percent of the requested funding — and for the 2014/2015 budget cycle, the county funded around 40 percent. And while the $2.6 million granted to nonprofits last year might seem like a large chunk of money, community funding grants made up less than one percent last year’s $388 million budget as a whole.

“There’s not a single one of you that isn’t worthy of funding,” said Chairman David Gantt at the end of the meeting. “But, like everything, it’s a matter of money. We’re going to do the best we can, working from now until summer [to finalize the budget with these requests in mind]. Thank you for your time and all you do for this community. You make this community a better place.”

Just as the county doesn’t always have the funds to support every worthy cause, Xpress can’t fit details on all 48 requests into one story (though we wish we could). For a full chart of nonprofits, projects and funding requests, click here, visit the workshop’s agenda or click the links below to read up on a specific nonprofit and its goals.

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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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17 thoughts on “Buncombe Commissioners hear $7.2 million in nonprofit grant requests

    • Hauntedheadnc

      So you’re saying you would prefer the government perform all the functions of all these non-profits directly?

      …Because you’d have to be one of the world’s great idiots to say that none of these outfits performs a needed service.

      • Lulz

        LOL, such as Riverlink that has a spa? You know, all those people need their mud baths with French Broad river water that has plenty of “mud” in it. Courtesy of sewage lulz.

        • hauntedheadnc

          No, more along the lines of Our Voice, Child Abuse Prevention Services, The Mediation Center, Helpmate, Pisgah Legal Services, the Irene Wortham Center, Steadfast House, Veteran Village, Veterans Treatment Court, and the like.

          You know, all those people you’d ignore and leave to die or suffer while lol’ing yourself into a seizure.

  1. bsummers

    Buncombe County Schools? Don’t they already have a $272 million budget, quite a bit of it coming from Buncombe County taxpayers?

    • Lulz

      LOL, but Summers, the slogan “it’s for the children” has made it impossible to criticize schools because one is easily targeted as being hostile to education. Never mind that public schools are ripe with waste lulz. Or that they have to be stand in parents and babysitters in a society of single women who are dumb enough to believe that bums and scumbags will change once babies come along LOL. And their children are fed better in school than at home. Shame on a society and nation that promotes irresponsible sex and uses the children created by it to enrich themselves and as excuses to take money from others.

    • Yep

      Can anyone justify why we must suffer paying for TWO separate government screwl systems in Dumbcombe County ???

      W H Y ? Looks like to ME, the way to achieve the MOST DIVERSITY would be to consolidate. Im always trying to get
      those people , the ‘educators’ to answer that question and make them SQUIRM to justify their answers! TRY it , it’s great fun!

  2. TAX PAYER

    Seems they spend enough money from the county on terrible ideas by moving offices all over town and spending millions in remodeling as is. And some of those same agencies they are helping out by putting in a domestic family center are still holding out a hand for more. Tiered of seeing my money given away.

    • Hauntedheadnc

      Even when consolidating services in a family justice center or child advocacy center will improve efficiency in the justice center, save money, and improve the lives of victims of crime and abuse in the long run? Are you really that short-sighted?

      • Lulz

        Consolidating? LOL, are they finally going to combine with the city since the redundancy is by far the biggest drain on taxpayers? Or are they going to be nothing more that pseudo employment agencies to handout jobs? Ever had to conduct business in either? Notice how many people you have to deal with just to get something simple as a document?

        • hauntedheadnc

          Were you aware that the average victim of child abuse or domestic violence has to make about twenty trips to different agencies around town in order to get the situation dealt with?

          Are you calling that efficient? Or are you just simply ignorant of the way that family justice centers and child advocacy centers work to make it so that victims only have to go to one place to get the problems solved?

  3. Yep

    Dear local charity donation solicitor,

    We’d love to help you out with a nice donation, but your request from me has already been forcibly taken from my property taxes, so you will just have to adjust and hopefully cut back like we do. Thanks.

  4. Big Al

    Here are a few items that I find ludicrous:

    $2.2 MILLION for the Art Museum? For that much money, they had better admit for FREE, otherwise this is a money grab by elites.

    Meditation??? Tax payer money so people can gather and chant Ohmmm….?

    Asheville Lyric Opera? I know it is only $500, but they charge a hefty admission fee anyway. Again, this is ELITE entertainment being subsidized by taxpayers who do not attend such high-brow events, even if they could afford to.

    And finally, the City PAYS Just Economics to criticize them and demand higher “Living” wages”?

    What a con these non-profits have going. And WE are paying them to con us!

    • hauntedheadnc

      “Meditation??? Tax payer money so people can gather and chant Ohmmm….?”

      Were you referring to the Mediation Center? The place that tries to diffuse conflicts before the cops or lawyers have to be called into it to waste everyone’s time and money?

      • Big Al

        I stand corrected. My eyesight is going and I missed the “t”. I can definitely see the value to the public in conflict mediation.

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