Buncombe to allocate COVID relief funds for more beds for homeless

At its Tuesday, Sept. 5 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will consider allocating about $4.7 million in COVID recovery funding to help pay for additional emergency beds in homeless shelters .

As part of an interlocal agreement, the City of Asheville will administer $875,000 in county funds, as well as an equal city match, to three area shelter providers for extra beds. According to a staff presentation, the other $3.8 million is slated to go toward general housing or shelter needs, the specifics of which are not yet clear.

If the funding is passed, The Salvation Army of Asheville and Buncombe County is slated to add 20 new beds to its existing 45 beds and 16 Code Purple beds, according to an interlocal agreement. Additionally, Grace Episcopal Church will provide 10 new beds to families with children and 10 new beds for single adults under the agreement. The Haywood Street Congregation will provide 3 new beds and onsite services from licensed medical, mental health and substance use providers to respond to needs of “clinically acute single adults,” according to the agreement.

The county will also consider reallocating about $2.3 million to bolster funding for a Ferry Road infrastructure project.

The funds come from the $4.4 million that was left from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and a reallocation of $2.5 million previously set aside for COVID contingencies and broadband infrastructure expansion.

If passed, this will exhaust the $50.7 million Buncombe County received in federal COVID recovery funds.

In other news

Commissioners will also receive an update from the Early Childhood Committee on the use of about $3.6 million in the Early Childhood Education and Development fund.

Committee members will detail the 22 projects that were funded through 17 agencies last fiscal year, leading to a 69% completion rate of stated goals, according to a staff presentation.

The most difficult goals to achieve related to enrollment, attendance and staffing.

Commissioners will also receive an update on pre-K expansion in Buncombe County, including the latest on a two-year pilot project by the Partnership for Children, conducted with $3.2 million in COVID recovery funding. The project runs through June 2024.

Public Health Director Ellis Matheson will also provide commissioners an update on the county’s preparation for the fall respiratory virus season at the meeting.

Consent agenda

The consent agenda for the meeting contains eight items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:

  • Approval of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office’s participation in the fourth year of the DWI task force as part of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. If approved, BCSO will receive $154,481 in federal funding and an equal match in county funds for a total of nearly $309,000 for three sworn officers and operational expenses.
  • Approval of a budget amendment to establish two conservation easement projects. If approved, the county will spend $63,000 to conserve 155 acres on Fairacres Farm in Fairview and $37,000 for 30 acres on Parham-Fortner Farm in Leicester.
  • Approval of a budget amendment to establish a grant budget of $33,418 for the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office’s Medication Assisted Treatment program in the county jail through September 30.

The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. Prior to that meeting, the commissioners will hold a 3 p.m. briefing.

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., Asheville; no voicemail or email comments will be permitted. Both the briefing and the regular meeting will be livestreamed on the county’s Facebook page and will subsequently be available via YouTube.



Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

3 thoughts on “Buncombe to allocate COVID relief funds for more beds for homeless

  1. Lou

    I wish Asheville would partner with a local tiny home builder or steel building dealer to create cute tiny shelters in spaces that are sprawling with weeds and only add a pockmark to our landscape. Here is an example of such a place: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2023-08-15/inside-portland-s-experiment-with-tiny-homes-as-homeless-shelters
    It’s time to get creative and also time to build our available resources for mental and physical health and basic living necessities for humans. We are suppoed to take care of each other. Let’s start doing that.

  2. Taxpayer

    Lots of pockets getting lined with millions and millions and millions. Does it really cost $25 or $30 mil to provide some extra beds? They’re praying the homeless drug addicts contine to flood into Asheville so the money spigot will never shut off. Why not incentivize getting them off the streets instead? Oh, the money would end.

  3. joelharder

    “The funds come from the $4.4 million that was left from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and a reallocation of $2.5 million previously set aside for COVID contingencies and broadband infrastructure expansion.”

    A misuse of public money, imagine that? Local politicians think some county residents don’t need broadband access. According to state data as of September 5, 2023: 13.26% of our county residents have no internet access. 42.87% w/ fiber. 10.87% live in poverty.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.