Letter: How welcoming is Asheville to people of less means?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

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


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11 thoughts on “Letter: How welcoming is Asheville to people of less means?

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    Asheville struggles to make gentrification GREAT again! THAT is the problem… NOW more than ever we need MORE representation in the CITY and the COUNTY…NOW is the time to
    merge CITY and COUNTY governments for total diversity and equality for everyone, not a segregated city that seeks to corrupt and CONTROL everything they can… ONE govco will be
    much better than two govcos…

    • James

      In other words, you want to get your hands deeper into our city pockets so we can subsidize your education, infrastructure and everything else. We’re not going to pay more in taxes in Asheville so you can sit around on your backside sponging off the rest of us while your elected officials rant about abortion.

      • bsummers

        Well that’s not really fair though, is it?

        They rant about the gays, too.

      • bsummers

        And don’t forget that the county gets a disproportionate share of sales tax revenue redistributed by the state. The vast majority of that is generated in the city, but the city gets a single-digit percentage of that back. The county and the smaller municipalities budgets are stuffed with Asheville money.

  2. underwater

    It’s over-rated as a city/location. It has no feeling of “life”, but is subdued, perhaps by people too drunk to even care where they are. I personally don’t mind gentrification, because I figure it’s better to live somewhere with more “life” feeling like mexican border region. Anglo America is kind of like being in Germany, with Mexico being Poland. You feel more alive the closer you get to the Polish border, if traveling by train, with actually entering Poland bringing a feeling of relief, as if you’d been underwater in Germany. Asheville is much the same, as being “underwater”, and ultimately it will attract subdued rich people who like “being underwater” as opposed to say El Paso Texas, where you still feel “the poetry of life”. So there is nothing really to lament in what should be a preordained take-over of a city designed in a location to attract rich boring people.

  3. Dit Pook

    I will ask you, as I do of anyone who wants everything for free. Who is going to pay for this? What you call entitlement and privilege is people working hard day and night and saving money for a better future for themselves. Do you really think I worked since I was 13 years old, after school, nights, weekends, holidays, paid my own way through college to face 60-80 hour work weeks for 40 hours pay as a professional only to come out the other end and hear that you want to be level with me without the same effort? Most would say to look at Venezuela. I say, please go there and live among others who feel the way you do with no electricity, bread lines and crime. The second that people like you come into power, people like me will move away and you will have no one to pay for this dreamworld you fabricated in all your free time.

    • James

      Remind us all again who it is that wants things for free. The people with several children in school who don’t pay anywhere near the cost per student? The areas that need us to subsidize their infrastructure with federal, state or city funds? The people who receive free medical care for the rest of their lives after paying only 1.5% of their income? (Who shriek about that while giving 10% of their income to their churches who are supposed to be providing for the widows and orphans per their propaganda)

      IF you earned the median income per person of $33,000 EVERY year for 30 years you have contributed a grand total of $14,850 towards your Medicare, (I’m guessing you didn’t pay nearly that amount) regardless of your actual health, unlike say private medical insurance premiums. According to the Urban Institute the average male/female retired couple will receive $260,000 MORE than they contributed to the system. Where does that money come from? The rest of us. Americans are subsidized at different points in our lives. (And I support that and think it is what makes us a community) If you REALLY want to play this game of “Why am I paying for others…” then bring it on. I’ll gladly give you your $15k back and let you buy private health insurance from now on. At $2000 a month per person with a $10k deductible let’s see how long you go before you want your “socialism” back.

      In the mean time how about everyone pay the same amount of property taxes regardless of the property size, or pay an equal amount per person on their income taxes so that everyone is paying their “fair” share. I presume you oppose this idea that people get the same amount of services and infrastructure regardless of how much they pay in taxes, right?

    • Lou

      When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression. Poor you, don’t you understand that many people work just as hard as you but don’t get the opportunities you were given because of the color of their skin or their gender or their financial situation? When will you people get it through your thick heads that just because you want to be successful doesn’t mean you will be, unless of course you are white and male. And arrogant as hell.

      • dit

        Well, Lou, I wondered when the poor man’s excuse for everything was going to rear its head. If you’re poor it is because you are lazy. That’s all. Of all the jobs I applied for in the past 40 years I was told I was the wrong gender or color to be hired. That is, until they hired people based on color and gender and they screwed up immensely. I was then hired by the same companies that wouldn’t have me to undo the screwups of these unqualified people. Equality is oppression because you are holding someone qualified down just to meet a quota system. It is an overt act of violence. Keep government out of the working sector.

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