Letter writer: Earmark part of hotel tax for affordable housing

Graphic by Lori Deaton

If you had a choice to give one penny so that there would be more affordable housing, would that be a hardship or would you gladly contribute?

We have all noticed in dismay hotels cropping up like mushrooms, while the number of homeless people increases daily. We are in a severe housing crisis in Asheville, over 5,000 units short of affordable housing!

Did you know that each time someone checks into a hotel, they pay a hotel tax? It’s 6 cents. If only 1 cent of every room tax was contributed to the Home Trust Fund, we would collect $1.8 million per year! Think about what a difference that would make to our housing shortage!

Housing is a civil right, yes? Ask Rodney; he has been waiting for a place to live for almost two years! He works a full-time job, and yet he cannot afford a space and has been put on a waiting list!

Can you imagine working and not having housing? Can you imagine what it is like to live in a tent, no matter the weather? Can you imagine getting up each day, looking for a bathroom to try and clean yourself and dress for work? Can you imagine trying to keep yourself functional through this ordeal?

Can you see where one penny can change lives? So would you contribute 1 cent? Will you be the one who stands up and says yes?

Please contact our state lawmakers and ask them to earmark one penny from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority funds to go to creating affordable housing for the people of Asheville, many of whom work in hotels, restaurants, and other service industry jobs.

And please sign our online petition at www.belovedasheville.com. And while you are at it, consider asking City Council to pass mandatory inclusionary zoning, which means that every time something is built in our city, a percentage of what is developed is affordable housing.

So simple, so humane. We haven’t really lost our priorities, have we?

— Ariel Harris


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10 thoughts on “Letter writer: Earmark part of hotel tax for affordable housing

  1. GentrifyAsheville

    Or maybe… maybe… build the necessary sidewalks that would otherwise talk 4000 years to build.

  2. OneWhoKnows

    I, for one of MANY, are thrilled to see more new hotels going up! $300 per night helps out the AirBnB folks get more for their
    homestays !!!

    • Cathy Williams

      Back up Jack, city council is voting (what do you want to bet before the election I bet) to further restrict homeowners so that new laws will be so exclusionary that no one will qualify legally for a homestay. Marc Hunt, at the September city council, announced that he wanted to delay a vote on homestays until Council could “get it right”. Yeah, get it right to tighten the screws before the new folks are elected! His pronouncement of delaying the vote came AFTER three additional overflow rooms of citizens listened to almost five hours of citizen testimony that was in favor of carefully regulated short term rentals. Really? I call that a massive stroke of disrespect and manipulation. When Cecil queried Hunt on overhearing him say he wanted to delay the vote before the meeting, Hunt tried to deny but it was a weak defense. When Hunt, at a recent candidate forum offered that he would listen to the people on critical issues, well, so far I haven’t seen any action behind those words to make him a credible reliable ally of the citizenry…..Who is he an ally for? Haven’t seen any evidence it’s for the little guys trying to make a mortgage payment.

  3. OneWhoKnows

    Oh, and housing is NOT a ‘civil right’ nor is housing guaranteed in the Consitution.

    • Lulz

      LOL, if you think the Constitution is in effect anymore, I got beachfront property in Iowa to sell ya. The USA is a banana republic where laws are applicable in regards to what you are defined as lulz. Until the peons wake up and realize that the “ruling” class is in effect their masters and not abiding by the same laws that they pass on everyone else to live by, don’t expect things to change LOL. When those in the upper echelons can literally sell out their country, persecute those of opposite values, use the government to target the opposition, and not care about violating the rule of law or be punished for breaking it LOL, why should anyone, and I mean anyone be expected to do the same? LOL, the government, from the local to the federal is not one for the people, but one against them lulz.

    • hauntedheadnc

      I could not agree more. I just despise it whenever anyone tries to stabilize society, or offer any sort of opportunity to anyone other than the filthy rich. That’s just unAmerican!

      • OneWhoKnows

        Exactly…it’s up to the free INDIVIDUAL to stabilize themselves thru education and hard work!

        • Hauntedheadnc

          Two things wrong with that. You need somewhere to stay so that you can concentrate on your education and somewhere to go after you work hard. No housing, no education or work.

          On the macro level, you also need a nation where education and hard work will actually get you somewhere. America is no longer that nation. Upward mobility is largely a myth anymore.

          Which leads me to history. Why don’t you do a little digging and tell me how well dumping on the poor worked for the French aristocracy.

          • OneWhoKnows

            Let’s NOT compare the USA to the French, ok ? Thanks.

          • hauntedheadnc

            Oh, dear… you really don’t know your history at all. That’s so sad. I mean, if you did you would know that America’s independence came courtesy of the French during the Revolution. You would also know that the French Revolution is a good example of what happens when the elite crush the poor.

            Now, applied to Asheville, we have in very own teapot here the same sort of tempest that caused the French Revolution. We have all of the community’s wealth, assets, and opportunities concentrating in the hands of the elite. What’s worse is the fact that our elite aren’t even homegrown. To afford housing in Asheville you have to bring in money you made somewhere else, because God knows there are a million places to spend money here but no place to make it.

            How does this apply to the hotel tax? Well, here we are with a special tax to draw tourists, and the tax can only be used to attract tourists. So we’re basically enacting a tax to bring in the tourists, usually with the idea of turning them into residents, so we’re using this tax money to bring in the people who are driving up the cost of living here with their outside money, and so we’re using this tax money to bring in the people who are driving us residents out.

            And you support that because of some ephemeral claptrap about your ideals, when your ideals mean squat in the face of reality. The harder that elite boot grinds down, the angrier the people who are being stepped on get. Look at French history to see what happens when it hits a boiling point. Or, if you like, just look at American history. There have been bread riots in this country — and in this state, and uprisings against uncaring elite. It can happen again.

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