Letter: City acts to punish, not lead on homelessness issue

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Asheville city government appears to be failing its responsibilities as the custodian of homelessness funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

To receive such funds, HUD requires a community to establish a Continuum of Care to carry out responsibilities that HUD prescribes. City government has claimed the leadership role in Asheville/Buncombe Continuum of Care. Among the duties of the continuum is to “coordinat[e] the implementation of a housing and service system within its geographic area that meets the needs of the individuals and families who experience homelessness there.” [avl.mx/b6m]

The city’s actions are mainly punitive — to reduce the number and visibility of people experiencing homelessness. Do you see much city coordination with any but the Police Department? Do you see the city involved in the implementation of a [homelessness] housing and service system? Do you see steps by the city to address the needs of homeless individuals and families?

The city may dole the HUD funds, but it seems faith-based entities and nongovernmental organizations are being left without guidance, and any sense of a partnership with them is wanting. Homelessness is a difficult and challenging issue. The homeless population can be a difficult and challenging group to serve. But difficulties and challenges have never gotten better if we make them invisible or leave them unaddressed. I urge the city to own up to its responsibilities as the continuum’s lead.

— Walt Leginski


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10 thoughts on “Letter: City acts to punish, not lead on homelessness issue

  1. kw

    Maybe the City would rather use those funds to help tourists who OD in pricey suites at the Grove Park Inn…

    • Bill

      Thanks Walt , given your extensive Govt experience in this area , would you say our policies and strategies are working? It seems the homeless situation is worse than ever. Maybe it’s time to try something new your thoughts please?

  2. AJ

    The drug addled campers need to go. They are a blight on this town and will be wherever they end up. They will take advantage of any charity and will continue to fill our streets and neighborhoods with needles, piss bottles, feces and trash. They don’t deserve anything if they aren’t willing to offer anything. The self righteous religious charity groups are part of the problem. They keep the all night party going with food and beverages. They city should require them to have permits with regular operating hours. The city should focus it’s efforts on those who can actually function in a civil society and can use charity to their benefit while weeding out those other junky and drunk campers. By “weeding out” I mean make inhospitable.

  3. Bright

    “Asheville city government appears to be failing its responsibilities as the custodian of homelessness funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.“ How many chances does asheville (all lower case) get for misusing funds, taxes, etc.? Place your bets…it should be entertaining.

  4. Big Al

    This past Saturday, there was a grass fire behind Haywood Street Congregation where the ground slopes down to I-240. Was this started by homeless campfires? If so, then how much more vandalism, destruction and crime will it take for the City of Asheville to stop pandering to drug addicted panhandlers pretending to be victimized homeless?

  5. Enlightened Enigma

    OMG. YES! we see millions of $$$ going to house the homeless…what is this writer even talking about ???

  6. Taxpayer

    Where do we draw the line? Is it ok to tent downtown or in parks? Ok to treat downtown sidewalks as bathrooms? Is using propane tanks that explode ok or how do you stop their use? When an addict passes out and the Ramada is on fire, where will we send the residents? Do we need to buy more hotels for the homeless arriving daily? Will drug dealers in taxpayer funded hotel shelters be allowed? Asheville’s a great deal. Expect a flood of incoming new homeless folks this spring.

  7. Robert

    I believe we need to crack down on felony drug crimes and enforce stiffer penalties, whether the culprits are the unhoused, resident taxpayers, apartment dwellers, or tourists staying in pricey hotel suites…

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