I don’t mean in any way to disparage the young couple, Janet and Roy Parvin, illustrated in the Aug. 12 Mountain Xpress section COVID Conversations, “Why We Moved to Asheville in the Middle of the Pandemic.” I don’t blame them for “trying to escape California,” San Francisco in particular. I’ve met other former California residents, now living in Fletcher and Henderson County, who have shared their stories about California life. How one said to friends still in California: “Get out of there.” Enough said.
They look like a very nice couple, and we in Western North Carolina, as I believe throughout the U.S., are welcoming people. Their story is most interesting. Driving 2,600 miles cross-country in their packed SUV. Then finding a “house waiting for us that we’d never set foot in. … We bought it off the internet, sight unseen, forking well over half a million dollars, the real estate version of running with scissors.”
It’s a fun story. However, I couldn’t help wondering how our “native” population, of all races, who are struggling with gentrification, unaffordable housing, nonliving wages and income inequality might be feeling when they hear that story. That this new couple to our city paid “well over half a million dollars” for their new home.
I lived in North Asheville and then on Town Mountain from 1987 to 2014, when I moved to Fletcher. Our Town Mountain Homeowners Association had a conversation with one local government official one evening about affordable housing in Asheville. I posited that Asheville’s land is too expensive to build truly affordable housing. Nevertheless, our government officials promise to address this need at every election cycle.
I welcome this nice couple to our city. However, I don’t know how welcoming our city is to folks of far less means.
— Dennis Kabasan