Dear Adrienne from Vermont,
We appreciate your letter to the Xpress [“Will I Be Welcome in Asheville?” July 11] because it provides an opportunity to explain what is going on in Asheville and why you are sensing hostility to tourism. What you perhaps don’t know is that because of the relentless advertising of Asheville’s charms in places like New England and Florida and the “Best Place to Live/Retire” rankings, many people come here as tourists and then move here or buy second homes.
The reality is that Asheville is facing an economic tsunami. We are a small city of 90,000 residents. Yet, we are the second-fastest gentrifying city in the entire U.S., according to Realtor.com. There is enormous economic pressure on our town. People like us, looking for a progressive, vibrant, diverse community with good weather come here with cash in hand from selling our own homes in high-priced markets. We are able to buy and build homes that are far more expensive than most Asheville residents can afford.
Most urgently, gentrification is creating a demand for buildable lots and houses within the city limits that is invading our historic African-American neighborhoods and displacing lifelong residents who have been here for generations. The economic pressure has skyrocketed Asheville housing prices and rents. Despite attempts at affordable housing, we are losing our artists and musicians, our service workers, our health care workers, our graduating students, our young families, our kids, who can no longer afford to live here.
But do come visit us and support our African-American businesses like the Hood Tours, which may give you a deeper understanding of our history. And come soon before gentrification eats our economic, racial and cultural diversity for lunch.
— Pamela Brown and