Buncombe County Commission

This year, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program received more applications for low-income housing than ever before, reported Cynthia Barcklow of the Buncombe County Planning Department. At the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners’ Jan. 21 meeting, Barcklow outlined the five programs she and Planning Department head Jon Creighton are recommending that the commissioners submit to the Asheville Regional Housing Consortium for funding. All told, the county would be asking the consortium for $325,000 while providing an additional $72,300 in county funds for these projects.

The HOME Program funds housing-related projects benefiting low-income people in Buncombe County. The five recommended projects are: Northpoint Commons, a men’s dorm at First Step Farm, a rural housing-rehab program, a proposal by Neighborhood Housing Services to build single-family homes, and an online support service helping low-income people find housing and help with related issues.

Northpoint Commons, an apartment complex to be built in Woodfin, will offer affordable rental units to qualifying working families.

The dorm at First Step Farm will provide living space for chronic substance abusers learning to break the cycle of addiction and prepare for work life after completing the program.

The housing-rehab program benefits very-low-income homeowners who live in the county but outside the Asheville city limits. Priority is given to the elderly and disabled and people with children.

The Neighborhood Housing Services proposal involves buying a building site and constructing single-family modular homes that will be available for purchase by low-income families. The HOME Program funding would be used for construction costs. Participating families will be chosen on a first-come, first-served basis. Besides meeting income guidelines, they will be required to complete the Affordable Housing Coalition’s program for first-time homebuyers.

And finally, the Land-of-Sky Regional Council is working to bring www.SocialServe.com to Buncombe County. The service helps low-income people seeking rental housing or people wishing to list available rental housing for low-income tenants. SocialServe.com also identifies programs offering help with rent and/or utilities, credit counseling, etc.

The commissioners unanimously endorsed the proposal. Commissioner Patsy Keever thanked Barcklow for wisely evaluating and choosing which projects to bring before the board.

Barcklow said later that there hasn’t yet been a case where the county made a recommendation for funding that wasn’t approved by the consortium.

Reynolds Rockets football stars congratulated on championship

To audience applause, three young stars who played key roles in Reynolds High School’s 4-A football state championship appeared before the commissioners to accept congratulatory certificates of achievement. Tailback/MVP Trevor Still, defensive guard Andre Cave, and Player of the Year Garren Henderson all spoke briefly about their roles in the win and their plans for the future. The young men also accepted awards for their teammates who weren’t present. Reynolds Principal Tony Baldwin thanked the commissioners, saying, “It creates excitement for everyone in the community to have a win like that.”

A banquet will be held at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 13 to honor the players and their families. The public is invited to attend.

Forgiving and appointing

In other news, a simple bookkeeping error caused the Grove Park Inn to be late in paying the visitor tax to the Tourist Development Board Authority. The commissioners waived the $13,500 late fee, however, because the check had been cut prior to the due date but simply wasn’t mailed.

The public meeting concluded with the appointment of Diane Bankright to the Mental Health Advisory Task Force by unanimous vote. In closed session, the commissioners discussed an economic-development concern and the lawsuit pending against the city of Asheville by co-plaintiffs Betty Donoho and the Buncombe County Board of Education. Continuing their recent spate of short meetings, the commissioners ended the session within one hour.

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