Letter: Workers + no housing = ?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[Regarding “Liftoff: TDA Approves About $10 Million for Community Projects But Not Affordable Housing,” May 1, Xpress:]

It seems to me that workers for the tourism industry in Asheville are essential. And if people cannot afford to live here (or near here), we will not have workers to serve the tourists we are trying to woo.

— Lori Grifo
Mills River


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7 thoughts on “Letter: Workers + no housing = ?

  1. Hiram

    In my neighborhood, we had a nice couple who worked in the tourism industry. The house got converted into a short term rental for tourists. One of those tourists was trespassing on my property this morning. As I was directing him back to the proper path out, he asked for a restaurant recommendation that is good but not too pricey. Go figure…

  2. Kristen Burns-Warren

    First big question is why people cannot afford to live in Asheville or nearby that you brought up?

    Second question is -Does Asheville really have a shortage of tourists to woo?

    October 27,2023

    The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (TDA) has budgeted more than $100 million to market Asheville just since 2017. The sentiment among some locals is that unlike 40 years ago, when tourism provided desperately needed economic development, Asheville is now a well-known tourist destination, one no longer requiring extensive promotion.

    The 1983 law authorizing a 2% occupancy tax required the money be spent on advertising and promoting Asheville for tourism. Today, the tax is 6%, and two-thirds goes toward promotion and one-third to capital projects that encourage tourism.


    These folks appear to be living quite well in Asheville.Take a look at TDA staff salaries provided in the news.

    Vic Isley, TDA president $456,000 in compensation and an incentive bonus of $90,000 plus a “retirement contribution of $60,000 that increases $20,000 each of the next two years.”

    The Buncombe county TDA staffers “INITIALLY DECLINED TO PROVIDE THE SALARIES OF THEIR 34 POSITIONS in this article but later after a public record request by Watchdog the TDA replied “ after further consideration and review” and gave the staff pay.

    The tally is second highest paid under Isley is $ 191,000 annually position of senior vice president.

    Five employees are paid $ $101,000 to $140,000 each.
    (This is a gray area on specific pay for five employees rounded to being in this ballpark range.) It does not reflect as the president of the TDA as Vic Isley, her pay was shown to have additional pay of incentive bonus of $90k plus the $60 k retirement contribution and $20 k that was stated increases for the next two years.

    The other staffers pay annual also appear obscured in varying price ranges not exact annual pay specified and any other pay like bonuses or retirement.

    Other staffers are less than $100,000 with nearly half paid $45,000-$65,000 according to the article which is still double to triple in the news what first responders in Asheville are receiving.

    How busy were firefighters in 2023? Answer exceedingly busy!!


    Today the wage increase for firefighters was very low at only a 66 cent raise and it was for “all city employees” proposed and stated not enough keeping firefighters above the standard of living costs so it was still way under twenty dollars an hour of their $15.88 /hr so .66 cents will not make a difference as it still is not enough not even remotely close enough for a living wage in Asheville of which many jobs pay more in Asheville with less danger, less stress, less erratic schedules to provide to the public.

    Look online what retailers pay to start a job no experience in Asheville now.

    What if the firefighters as well as other first responders choose to move elsewhere for better pay because they cannot afford to live on this not a living wage and seek out other employment to make ends meet?



    Then there’s the short term rentals rentals that made news in Asheville proposed to be stopped but explained in this article is this one establishment fills a hundred peoples jobs plus short term rentals gains 37 percent of the lodging sales explained by Craig of Graybeard Realty who sounds very knowledgeable in his business operating since the Y2K 1999 year.


    I feel “livability “ affects everyone so what are some of the criteria for Asheville’s livability score and what else is left out that perhaps should be listed.

    Kristen Burns-Warren

  3. Nostupid people

    If you really give a crap about the people that keep your community flowing, you would give at least incentives to help them out. You keep sucking revenue from these working people to help the homeless, thief’s , woke , etc.

  4. Bright

    Tourists don’t need anyone “to take care of them,” they do an excellent job of shoving themselves into whatever they feel they are entitled to use their own entertainment. You’d think Asheville would be proud to get along without them, and stand on its own two feet. Best they go elsewhere if they can’t cope.

  5. WNC

    If there’s not enough workers to meet the need, less people will come. The market would be corrected.

  6. kw

    Some people might one day realize that they are foolish to try to stay here. There are so many more affordable places to live in Tennessee, Virginia, George, Kentucky, Missouri…If I were a bit younger, I’d set off for new horizons.

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