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.”
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.
- Asheville Art Museum ($2,175,000)
- Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry ($1,215,000)
- Homeward Bound of Western North Carolina ($537,756)
- Pack Square Cultural Partnership ($395,000)
- Pisgah Legal Services ($300,000)
- All Souls Counseling Center ($145,000)
- Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ($140,000)
- Asheville Museum of Science ($125,000)
- YWCA of Asheville & WNC ($125,000)
- Mountain Housing Opportunities ($117,500)
- The Support Center ($100,000)
- Children First/Children in Schools of Buncombe ($100,000)
- Our Voice ($98.082.07)
- Buncombe County Schools ($94,000)
- Helpmate ($82,000)
- Big Ivy Community Club ($80,000)
- Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement ($80,000)
- Delta House ($75,000)
- Eblen Charities ($75,000)
- Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission ($75,000)
- MANNA FoodBank ($70,000)
- Asheville Greenworks ($70,000)
- Asheville Area Arts Council ($70,000)
- One Youth at a Time ($67,000)
- Mount Zion Community Development ($65,000)
- Friends of the Nature Center ($65,000)
- Veterans Treatment Court ($63,300)
- Project Lighten Up ($60,000)
- Green Opportunities ($60,000)
- Council on Aging ($52,300)
- WNC Communities ($45,000)
- YMI Cultural Center ($40,000)
- Arc of Buncombe County ($40,000)
- Hope Chest for Women ($38,700)
- Sterling House ($30,000)
- Irene Wortham Center ($30,000)
- Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project ($30,000)
- Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry ($25,000)
- Asheville Downtown Association ($25,000)
- The Mediation Center ($24,000)
- Child Abuse Prevention Services ($20,000)
- Just Economics ($15,000)
- Asheville Community Theatre ($15,000)
- Environmental Quality Institute ($9,600)
- Historic Resources Commission of Asheville & Buncombe County ($5,000)
- Asheville Lyric Opera ($5,000)
- Folk Heritage Committee ($4,275)
- Senior Care Fellowship ($1,500)