News in brief: Buncombe Homeowner Grant Program accepting applications

EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS: Phillip Hardin, economic services director for Buncombe County Health & Human Services, says the grants may help address rising property values in Buncombe County. Image courtesy of City of Buncombe County

Buncombe County Homeowner Grant Program accepting applications

Eligible homeowners in Buncombe County can now apply for the Buncombe County Homeowner Grant Program. The new initiative, funded by the county, city of Asheville and town of Woodfin, offers up to $500 in relief tied to the increase on a homeowner’s property tax bill.

Grants are available to residents who have owned and lived in their property as a primary residence for at least five years and who earn less than 80% of the area median income ($60,100 for a family of four). All Buncombe homeowners meeting those criteria can receive up to $300 depending on their county property tax bill; residents of Asheville and Woodfin can receive up to an additional $200 to cover the increase in municipal property taxes.

“With rising property values in Buncombe County and the most recent reevaluation, certainly it could help low-income homeowners,” Phillip Hardin, economic services director for Buncombe County Health & Human Services, tells Xpress.

The county Board of Commissioners has approved $300,000 for the initiative, with Asheville and Woodfin allocating $150,000 and $15,000, respectively. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds are spent; the application deadline is Monday, Nov. 15.

Homeowners can start an application by calling 828-250-5500 or submitting an inquiry at Phone support is available in any language.

Income documentation is required for enrollment. If the homeowner is enrolled in a means-tested benefits program through Buncombe’s Health & Human Services office, such as Medicaid or food assistance, the county will use the currently listed income.

Asheville returns to virtual meetings

In response to the continuing increase in COVID-19 cases, Asheville City Council meetings, city-managed advisory boards and City Council committee meetings will be held virtually until further notice. This will include the Tuesday, Aug. 24, Asheville City Council meeting and American Rescue Plan Act work session. This decision is based on an extension of an order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper allowing cities to legally hold virtual meetings.

Virtual meetings will continue to be streamed live to the city of Asheville virtual engagement hub and the city YouTube Channel. Instructions on how the public can participate via virtual public comment will be posted on the city of Asheville website, each City Council meeting agenda and the virtual engagement hub as well.

Mission restricts visitors due to COVID-19

Mission Health updated its visitor restrictions on July 27. The system’s hospitals now allow one visitor per person per day; one visitor is allowed overnight.

The COVID-19 units at Mission hospitals continue to forbid all visitors. All system facilities have a universal masking policy for public and patient care areas.

“The health and safety of our patients and team members is our top priority, and we are taking the rising number of COVID cases very seriously,” said spokesperson Nancy Lindell in a press release. “We realize this may be difficult for some patients and wish the situation were different, but we are taking every precaution to protect those in our care and our colleagues by reducing the risk of exposure to the virus.”

More information about visitation at Mission Health can be found at

Summer food assistance available for children

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved North Carolina’s plan to provide $413 million in food assistance to an estimated 1.1 million children throughout the summer. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has begun issuing one-time payments of $375 per child through the Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer Program.

Children are eligible for the P-EBT program if they received free or reduced-price meals as of the last month of the 2020-21 school year. Children age 6 and under are also eligible if they receive Food and Nutrition Services (food stamps) through the federal food assistance program administered by NCDHHS.

More information about P-EBT benefits is available at More information about eligibility for EBT in Buncombe County and an application for food assistance is available at

Hendersonville accepting nonprofit funding requests

The city of Hendersonville has designated $1 million of its $4.5 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act for nonprofits serving the area. Applications are now open for organizations to seek grants from the $250,000 that will be allocated this year.

Projects must use the money for COVID-19 mitigation or recovery efforts. This includes making necessary improvements to water, sewer or broadband infrastructure; supporting public health expenditures; or addressing negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic.

Organizations must submit an application by Sunday, Sept. 19, to be considered for funding. To apply, visit For more information, call city budget analyst Adam Murr at 828-233-2879 or email

Buncombe County eliminates library fees 

Buncombe County Public Libraries permanently eliminated late fees for overdue library materials effective July 1. All previous overdue fines were also forgiven.

BCPL changed its policy in response to research showing that late fees discourage patrons from using the library, according to a Buncombe County press release.

The system will continue to send a reminder when materials are due and another reminder when materials are past due. Any library material that is overdue for 45 days or more will be considered lost, and the borrower will be charged for its replacement.

More information about BCPL and the new policy can be found via email at or by calling 828-250-4700.

Mark your calendars: 

  • The Blue Ridge Pride Festival will take place on Saturday, Sept. 25, in Pack Square Park from 11 a.m.-7 p.m with the theme “Inclusion Y’all.” A week of Pride festivities will lead up to the festival, with more information available at
  • Splasheville, the interactive water feature in Pack Square Park, has reopened to the public for the remainder of the summer. Splasheville is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m., except during special events. The feature underwent a rebuild during the spring and has been updated with new spray patterns and synchronized water jets in multicolor lighting patterns. For more information, visit
  • Asheville Parks & Recreation is now registering for fall events, including daytrips, an aerobics class, a low-impact hiking club for adults age 50 and older and an ESPN fantasy football league. More information and registration available at ​​

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.

About Jessica Wakeman
Jessica Wakeman is an Asheville-based reporter for Mountain Xpress. She has been published in Rolling Stone, Glamour, New York magazine's The Cut, Bustle and many other publications. She was raised in Connecticut and holds a Bachelor's degree in journalism from New York University. Follow me @jessicawakeman

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.

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.