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 BuncombeCounty.org/HomeownerGrant. 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 avl.mx/a6l.
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.
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 avl.mx/a6v. For more information, call city budget analyst Adam Murr at 828-233-2879 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com 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 BlueRidgePride.org/calendar.
- 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 AshevilleNC.gov/Parks.
- 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 AVLRec.com.