Letter: What does Asheville have to offer the homeless?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[In response to the letter to the editor by Melissa Nicholson, “What Do Asheville’s Homeless Have to Offer?” Dec. 13, Xpress]: I think it was back in April when my perspective on the relationship between the “housed folks” and “homeless people” of Asheville changed.

I was walking downtown at midday. The sun was warm; people were out. I walked under a bridge where throngs of people had passed. I noticed a person sleeping on the sidewalk. Then I realized he wasn’t sleeping. His legs had been crossed, and he’d fallen over. A trail of urine was going down the sidewalk. I started talking to him. I introduced myself and [said] that I wanted to make sure he was OK.

I asked him if he could sit up. He couldn’t. I asked him if he could speak. His mouth opened, but no words came out. His breathing sounded labored. This is a human being. How long had he been there in a state of crisis while apathetic feet in boots more expensive than they’re worth walked by?

The homeless population are residents of Asheville. And they are often not considered or seen by the “housed people” of Asheville. But they could be. Existing should be enough for each and every person to have access to shelter, healthy food, clean water and opportunity.

[From Nicholson’s letter], I understand that you want to see the homeless offer something instead of begging. You want to see creation and intellectual engagement. But did you think first that basic needs are not being met? And then do you realize that while you’re asking for thoughts on books, that there may not be an organized place for them to collect? When I went to the library, they asked me to bring a bill with my name and address on it before I got a card. And is there a place in Asheville for low-income folks to come and create? Why didn’t you think about access to resources?

It’s so easy for us to judge from high above, not realizing the hill we’re standing on is made from the dirt that has another in a ditch. Why are we expecting people to be in some other circumstance without considering the system that fails them? Where’s the rope and toehold? We have the resources. Let’s figure out how to provide them.

— Susanna Dancy


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22 thoughts on “Letter: What does Asheville have to offer the homeless?

  1. Lulz

    LOL, no one is stopping you. By all means, hand the YOUR OWN money or allow them to sleep in YOUR OWN home. But of course we all know that people like you talk out of both ends.

    • hauntedheadnc

      As opposed to people like you who are very consistent in their open loathing of the poor and the homeless, and consistently apathetic as to whether they live or die.

      • Lulz

        LOL, I’m not the one who votes in authoritarians to control one’s property. And raise taxes on top of it.

        • Hauntedheadnc

          If you can stop giggling long enough, instead of deflecting try answering the question directly: Do you loathe the poor and the homeless? Do you care if they live or die?

          In the case of the former you’ve never given any indication that you don’t. In the latter you’ve never given any indication that you do.

          • Lulz

            I loathe the notion that rich liberals do everything in their power to create the poor and blame others for it. Do we not actively promote panhandling here now? What dd you expect, less homelessness? Do you not live in an area where the working class aren’t paid enough to afford the costs of living? Who’s been in power here for a few decades? Moronic liberals.

            There are ways to overcome poverty. Those with problems can get help if the want it bad enough. But to have elitist write letters lamenting someone lying in their own urine and asking what the city can do as a whole is pointless. Instead they should ask where did that person get the money to get so drunk as to pass out,. And then look in the mirror because it’s people like you. You people want to help the poor then by all means do so. No one is stopping you. But don’t be surprised to see the same faces down the road still lying in their own urine. Me personally, I’m tired of watching people sit around all day begging for money when they have no physical handicaps. I work and so can they. It’s not my responsibility to enure they don’t lie in their own urine. It’s theirs.

          • hauntedheadnc

            You managed to write two whole paragraphs without a single Joker laugh, so you get points for that, but you still didn’t answer the question directly. Try again.

            (PS — I also loathe the notion that rich liberals work to create the poor and blame others for it, but only because a notion is all it is, and an inaccurate one at that)

    • Susanna

      Hello Lulz, thank you for responding. You are always welcome to act (or remain inactive) on any responsibilities you feel you have as an individual. My greatest concern that brought me to writing this is: are we seeing all people as human beings, regardless of their situation? I followed that concern to a question of resources provided, and to start a conversation on how we can better do that.

      Personally though, I’d like to ask you what you envision for the future? What does an ideal world look like to you?

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    Yes ! How much money has the writer donated locally to stomp out homelessness? We have homeless shelters being built on Tunnel Road right now! The homeless have it better in AVL
    than probably any other place on the planet … excepting tropical locales…

  3. C-Law

    Umm, Susanna, the “homeless” population by definition are not residents of Asheville. Asheville’s property owners would be best served by having the vagrants rousted up and put on work crews to do some useful public service in return for 3 hots and a cot. Those that cannot do so get a one-way bus ticket to Cali or Bernie Sanders million dollar home address…let the socialists show us how its done…

    • luther blissett

      Are renters residents of Asheville?

      Weird how American conservatives often sound like feudal Europeans.

      • C-Law

        So LB, where do you stand on short-term rentals/renters? Do they count as residents to you?

  4. Jason

    The easiest and most cost effective solution is to load all the homeless into busses, trains or trucks and drop them off in Raleigh or Atlanta. Problem solved.

    • hauntedheadnc

      What makes you think Atlanta, Charlotte, and places in Florida aren’t shipping theirs to us? It’s called “Greyhound therapy,” and most places do it. The farthest-away place I’ve ever heard of sending their homeless to us is Milwaukee.

      • jason

        The farther the better. Perhaps, Asheville should send our problems to Milwaukee?

    • Craig Randolph

      Isn’t that similar to what Atlanta did when it hosted the Olympics?

      • jason

        Nobody wants to see a bunch of homeless people pissing in the street and begging. Can you blame Atlanta for trying to clean up the city?

        • Craig Randolph

          I can sure blame them for not addressing the problem of homelessness…for simply trying to shift their problem elsewhere.

    • Chris Raines

      Jason. I suppose you consider yourself a patriotic American. However, you betray that title by proposing a similar solution to how Hitler chose to deal with the “Jew Problem”. You can’t load people up on busses and trains against their will, that is abduction, which is against the law by the way. Furthermore; this is intended to be a forum for a serious community dialogue. When you post thoughtless comments that are in no way productive to the discussion, you reveal that you have no interest in making your community a better place. So if you care so little about the serious issues in this community, feel free to get yourself a bus or train to any other city (I would recommend San Diego, CA because the residents there are just as apathetic as you are about dealing with the issue of homelessness. This may seem like a harsh comment, and although I am angered and disgusted by your comment, I still respect you as a human being and I still have hope that you will choose to be part of the solution in our community and not part of the problem.



  5. BRO

    I have to say, I hope none of you with your bussing comments, and your desire to make people who are homeless work in camps for a cot, call yourself a Christian. Because your attitudes and behavior are completely against the words of Jesus Christ. It is pretty disgusting to see how you want to treat people with mental and physical illness, veterans and mothers with children – who comprise the bulk of the homeless population in this community. And yes, I volunteer and donate because it is the right thing to do.

    • C-Law

      BRO, the vast majority of the “homeless” desire to live as “homeless”. There are plenty of resources to care for the widow and orphan as your Bible commands. Your Bible also commands that those who refuse to work and can do so, should not be fed from the community table either.

      It would be best to send the physically able, yet lazy and degenerate vagrants back to their communities of birth, and have their actual local community deal with them.

    • jason

      Leave YOUR religion out of it. Please don’t push that dribble on others. Most people don’t believe in ghosts and fairy tales past childhood. Just because you were convinced early on before you developed critical thinking does not make your beliefs real.

  6. Tsalagi Sister

    It’s as common as water for the haves to point fingers at those who don’t have. It’s a “divide and conquer ” strategy used for eons.
    Too bad the rich don’t see the three fingers they have pointed back at themselves.
    Labels limit and libel life… Which is too precious to limit to man-made labels.
    The right and left both are guilty of eugenics…

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