Letter writer: City of Asheville should fund and build apartments for homeless veterans

Graphic by Lori Deaton

This is my reply to Mayor [Esther] Manheimer’s, Homeward Bound’s and Alan Ditmore’s letters that were published in the Mountain Xpress about ending veterans’ homelessness in Asheville [“City of Asheville Works with Partners to House Veterans,” April 29; “Homeward Bound Works to End Veteran Homelessness,” May 6; and “Asheville’s Restrictions Help Cause Homelessness,” May 6, respectively].

I agree with Alan Ditmore’s statement that the mayor did not completely answer my question, and really, there is no way, because of the lack of affordable housing in Asheville, that she can live up to the challenge by [first lady] Michelle Obama that she accepted.

I am a veteran and at one time got a HUD-VASH voucher but was unable to find affordable housing with it. This is why I have been repeatedly saying that if the city of Asheville really wants to fulfill the mayor’s promise to Michelle Obama to end veterans homelessness, it is going to have to figure out a way to fund and build a veterans apartment building or create some affordable housing for veterans another way.

Right now, Homeward Bound has a letter both in Mountain Xpress and the Asheville Citizen-Times pleading with landlords to come forward with apartments for veterans with HUD-VASH vouchers, and I predict that very few will because many don’t want to accept the vouchers, don’t want veterans in the program in their apartments and can get more money from renters who will pay more than the HUD-VASH vouchers do.

— John Penley
U.S. Navy, 1972-76


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4 thoughts on “Letter writer: City of Asheville should fund and build apartments for homeless veterans

  1. Steve

    The homeless veterans just need to call themselves a hotel or brewery and the City will do anything they want. Otherwise…..good luck.

  2. jonathan wainscott

    I am currently housing two homeless veterans through the Homeward Bound agency and program. During my own time of residential limbo, this program has helped me stabilize a precarious financial situation while providing housing for the homeless who have served our country. Today I cashed a very prompt rent check that was in my mailbox on this first day of the month. My new roommates are incredible and it has been a pleasure to provide them with more than a house, rather, a real home. Each room I rent (now 2) generates up to $700 a month ( I am charging $650) with a 3 month lease and option to extend to 5 months. The money is provided by the Federal government and the checking account is held at our own Asheville Savings Bank so cashing the check is instant. Of course there would be more flexibility for both tenants and landlords if the city and county would relax rather than restrict the ordinances concerning short-term rentals. Hopefully our town leaders will see the benefits to the citizens and those who have protected our freedom.

  3. Alan Ditmore

    Thank you John; and thank you also Jonathan for acknowledging that much Asheville homelessness is being caused by city regulation of homebuilders. Jonathan Wainscott’s water bottling plan kept me from endorsing or volunteering for him last time, so I supported a young Woodfin candidate instead. I don’t know or much car if the city can bottle water, the source of the “bulldinky” comment, but I do think that it would be a boondoggle if they tried. City governments should stick to housing as we have plenty of water (at least to drink). Water is diversionary and bottles pollute anyway.

    I wrote on Buncombe Politics that friction between police and housing residents was inevitable and could never be resolved because they were in direct competition for the exact same funding dollars. Funding is absolutely a zero sum game and I am for housing and must therefore be against police (and childcare and every other budget item.) Armed citizens, deputies, state troopers and FBI combine to provide plenty of law enforcement while housing funds effectively reduce desperation related crime. Also, by defunding, bad cops can be layed off subjectively without provable cause, thus bypassing the police unions and civil service board.

    Lindsey prioritizes housing, Lavonda is so new to politics that I am giving her the benefit of the doubt. I consider families to be luxury items, like private planes, or perhaps more like riding horses, and luxuries should not be subsidized. BTW 1000 cubic feet is 143 square feet with a 7 ft ceiling. Asheville needs to build at least 10,000 of these studio apartments if it is to achieve an affordable market. I never liked Wainscott’s water bottling idea. It sounded like a boondoggle to me. Jobs should be pushed into the suburbs to make room in the city for housing. The burbs are more business friendly anyway, especially Biltmore Forest. affordable homebuilding takes more labor than WNC has anyway.

    I’m thinking that maybe progressive cities like Baltimore and Asheville should simply abandon policing and transfer all police funds to affordable housing etc. Then the county, state and feds will be left to police Baltimore, which will not solve the use of force problem, but it will allow the mayor to wash her hands of it while reducing desperation, and the crime it causes. State troopers would not dare abandon city policing for fear of crime spillover beyond city limits. Besides, the most commonly enforced laws are state anyway, which means the same people who made the laws are then funding their enforcement, rather than having cities mostly paying to enforce someone else’s (state) laws. Why pay to enforce someone else’s laws?
    This would also reduce budgetary tension, which is really most of it, between city police and public housing residents. There would be no tension with a force that no longer exists.

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