During their meeting of Tuesday, April 25, members of Asheville City Council will consider five applications for support from the city’s Housing Trust Fund. Together the projects would bring 281 units of affordable housing online, with the city chipping in about $5.25 million.
The Housing Trust Fund was established in 2000 to bolster affordable housing projects within the city limits through low-interest loans to developers. According to a staff report, six applications for those loans were received from December through February. All but one of those projects were found eligible and are up for consideration by Council.
City staffers have recommended four projects for approval at a total of roughly $4.4 million:
- Redwood Commons, $1.8 million for 70 senior housing units guaranteed as affordable at 30%-60% of the area median income for 30 years
- Reimagining Deaverview, $1.04 million for 82 permanently affordable public housing units serving families at 30%-80% of AMI
- Fairhaven Summit, $500,000 for 77 units guaranteed as affordable at 30%-80% of AMI for 30 years
- Stewart Street Cottages, $1.05 million for 10 units guaranteed as affordable at 30%-80% of AMI for 20 years
Both Stewart Street Cottages and another loan applicant, Oak Hill Cottages, plan to offer the affordable units for sale. Staffers are not recommending the latter project, citing its limited planning and a lack of public engagement with members of the surrounding neighborhoods.
One point of disagreement has emerged between staff and Council regarding the Reimagining Deaverview project, which will be managed by the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville. While staffers want the money to be awarded as a 20-year, interest-free loan, Council’s Housing and Community Development Committee voted 2-1 on April 18 to recommend awarding it as a grant, in contradiction of Housing Trust Fund policy. (Committee members Sheneika Smith and Antanette Mosley were in favor of the move, with Sage Turner opposed.)
In other news
A vote on whether to implement recommendations to increase water fees for fiscal year 2023-24 is slated for the meeting. Council had voted March 28 to delay approval of those recommendations and asked city budget staff to rework the water budget in a way that would freeze residential fees.
During an April 11 meeting, however, staffers again recommended the increases, saying that the higher fees were crucial to fund infrastructure maintenance and service improvements. If implemented, the new fees would cost a typical household roughly $43 per year over current rates.
Council will also hear an after-action report regarding the events and issues that caused a prolonged water outage in December. Although the report was not linked to the agenda, it was shared online by WLOS on April 19, with the full document available here.
And “cat cafes” could see an expansion to West Asheville after a public hearing on updates to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance. The cafes, which provide opportunities for visitors to adopt cats while enjoying food and drinks, are currently only permitted downtown.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains 10 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- A resolution authorizing the sale of city-owned property at 3 Hunt Hill Place to the nonprofit KL Training Solutions for $1. If approved, the building will house My Daddy Taught Me That and affiliated youth development programs, which offer college readiness, mentorship, career training and other services for low- to moderate-income children.
- A resolution authorizing City Manager Debra Campbell to execute a roughly $238,000 contract with Appalachian Paving and Concrete for the improvement and construction of 24 sidewalk ramps and other accessibility infrastructure along South French Broad Avenue, Livingston Street and Choctaw Street south of downtown.
- A resolution to apply for a $2 million interest-free loan from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality to replace lead water lines throughout the city. If awarded, the funding will be used to identify and replace both private and public lines, with a focus on areas deemed as underserved or vulnerable by the NCDEQ and the city’s Climate Justice Map.
Council members will gather in their chambers on the second floor of City Hall, located at 70 Court Plaza, starting at 5 p.m. The meeting will also be carried live on Charter/Spectrum Channel 193 and livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can listen live by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 4559.
Those who wish to speak during the meeting must attend in person and sign up at the door. No live remote comment will be permitted. Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 4559; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilApr252023@publicinput.com until 9 a.m. April 25. General comments for City Council can be sent at any time to AshevilleNCCouncil@AshevilleNC.gov.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.