Letter: Shelter has created crisis in East Asheville

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I moved to the East Asheville neighborhood of Oakley nine years ago to retire. For the past four years, I have witnessed an increase in the homeless population at on- and off-ramps of the highway. I attempted to help a woman living in her car in 2019 in a Bleachery Boulevard parking lot. I brought her necessities during Christmas 2019. By January, she was looking for another parking lot to live in because she was accosted in the middle of the night by homeless men demanding she let them sleep in her car.

I met several men that hung outside a store in the same area that were later arrested for cooking meth in the woods next to the parking lot. I have stepped out of my car in another nearby parking lot and just missed stepping on an exposed needle. When I go to get dog food, there are usually two-four people sleeping on the walkway between two stores.

The Ramada Inn transition in March 2021 has brought extreme violence and threat to my little neighborhood. When I heard that they were purchasing the buildings for a low-barrier shelter, I immediately wondered why I didn’t know this. I found out through Nextdoor and then through the East Asheville Safety and Wellness Facebook page.

I believe in everyone having an opportunity to build their lives and find hope and security. Rationally, I know that drug abusers (most are homeless) cannot just switch off their addiction or dysfunctional behavior because they have a dry, warm place to lay their head. So I have watched as the low-barrier use of the Ramada since last March has created a crisis in East Asheville.

East Asheville was a working-class oasis in a town that parties a lot and draws tourists as a transient economy. Now, I am terrified to shop in my area of Asheville. I am terrified of my home being broken into and fighting off a drug-addled human struggling to get their next fix. Yes, my neighbors are being robbed. Strangers knock on doors in the late evening asking for water or a phone.

Without a massive investment in social services for these homeless people, there will be no noticeable change in the safety of East Asheville. It’s not a new problem, and the solutions are not new, either. Perhaps they are just forgotten. What works? Rehab, ongoing therapy, opportunity to rebuild one’s self-esteem by working and learning a new trade or return to an old one. I believe a farm would be ideal for these souls. A farm that offers training and being productive running the farm. Offering daily group and individual therapy would help people to look at the issues that brought them to rock bottom. Gradually, as people graduate from this halfway house, there should be opportunities for them to work in a job that satisfies their living needs of shelter, community and a future.

I feel that the City Council just dropped these people off in East Asheville to continue their downward spirals out of sight of downtown or the Montford area. The lack of transparency has me very upset. Why wasn’t the Oakley community involved in this decision? Of course, there was an outcry. Two people died, and a third overdosed in the Ramada just a few weeks ago. No one could even identify them. How has this helped anyone?

— Dallas Triniti


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

7 thoughts on “Letter: Shelter has created crisis in East Asheville

  1. Curious

    Mr. Triniti raises important and valid concerns. Could he be encouraged to take his concerns to City Council? Are any members of City Council reading his well-argued letter here?

  2. t

    “Send them to the farms!”

    Yes, because long hours for bad pay will encourage people to become upstanding members of society instead of relapse like the hands on my wife’s farm.

    Just admit that like everyone else you don’t REALLY care about other people as long as they’re not in your backyard. Everyone in Asheville knows homelessness and affordable housing is bad. Everyone in Asheville wants “someone” else to deal with it.

    Instead of hiding behind “send them to the farms” you should say what you really mean… “Chase them out of town. Preferably to where I can’t see or hear.”

    Rehab costs money. Shelters cost money. Crime damages business and costs money. Better officer pay costs money. Yet all across town you know what I see? A whole population that wants the benefits of living in civil society without the cost of being a member of that same civil society.

    • Don Yelton

      these elected officials in the City and County do not want citizens input and transparency.

    • WagonWheel

      All across town you know what I hear? People hiding behind mindless, unfounded rants about other people motives! Got any actual solutions???

      • WNC

        Solution one, close the Mexican border where about 90% of Fentanyl comes into American. Now it 90% of a much bigger pie. This solution immediately helps not just Asheville but the United States.
        Solution two don’t subsidize bad behavior that has become a lifestyle for many. There are college educated people (along with the much less educated) who have been going to cities where they could receive $60,000.00 a year in benefits while not working for 20 years plus.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.