[Regarding “Council Approves COVID Relief Spending Categories,” Sept. 22, Xpress:] Allocate $9.2 million for a low-barrier shelter? Absolutely not! It is my opinion these funds were intended to rescue existing businesses and organizations that were impacted by the virus. Especially businesses affected by closing and/or reduced volume as a result of the guidelines: They had to lay off staff, and the financial impact of all of this went to their bottom line. Some establishments closed and others held out, and while those that closed cannot share in this fund, the others that remained open should be given some of these funds. Some form of tiered support would need to be established.
When one looks at a cross section of the homeless population here in our city, there seem to be a lot of recent arrivals and/or transients, and others who want to live the bohemian lifestyle. There are few of these travelers who have been affected as a result of the virus and its outcomes, for e.g., losing one’s employment or business.
Asheville has become a desirable travel destination for tourists; this includes the full range of socioeconomic levels.
The city already owns land and can establish a site for those travelers, much like a KOA campground, including parking for those who travel in automobiles and/or RVs. Establish campsites that are adequately distanced; fire pits and permanent grill sites; and multiple sites that include bathroom facilities, to include showers and sinks; and a washer/dryer.
Spending $1 million to $2 million to construct a site on city-owned property and using the rest for the rescue of existing organizations would seem to me a far better allocation of the rescue funds!
— Reuben DeJernette