Letter: Ask TDA to support homes for workers

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Mountain Xpress readers are undoubtedly familiar with the fact that Buncombe County suffers from a severe housing shortage, with record-low vacancy rates driving astronomic increases in both rents and home prices.

What readers may not know is that we can all take actionable steps to increase housing options for working people and their families.

In cities across the country, a portion of the money that local governments collect from hotels and vacation rentals is used to subsidize the construction of new, income-restricted, multifamily homes. Seattle, for example, allocates more than a third of its occupancy tax revenues for such housing.

Here, spending from our occupancy tax revenues is governed by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority. And the state legislature has a substantial measure of control over how the BCTDA operates.

But a new rule has presented the BCTDA with a choice on how to spend a specific portion of the money that the county sends its way each year.

That specific portion is called the “LIFT fund.” And a coalition of local grassroots organizations — including Buncombe Decides, Asheville Food & Beverage United, Asheville DSA and Asheville for All — is asking the TDA to spend it on housing, just as other cities and counties do. Readers may find a petition [avl.mx/chp] supporting this ask linked on the websites of Asheville for All and Buncombe Decides.

There is no one silver bullet for solving our housing shortage. To raise just one example, we also need to push our cities to adopt aggressive “missing middle” zoning reforms, to not only add to the housing stock but also to make our communities less segregated and more walkable, with less sprawl and car dependence. (Asheville is scheduled to take up this very matter next year.)

But we can directly help our county’s workers, the people who drive our tourism economy — and thus drive contributions to the TDA’s coffers — by asking the TDA to give some money back to build housing for such workers.

— Andrew Paul


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One thought on “Letter: Ask TDA to support homes for workers

  1. MV

    Yes, as long as teachers, law enforcement, nurses, caregivers and other essential humans are given priority–not for *more* tourism workers or those working remotely. Also, there should be tax credits given to Airbnb people who will rent their properties long-term to the aforementioned workers. Maybe TDA could help initiate and fund that as well.

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