Letter writer: Let’s increase sales tax for affordable housing

Graphic by Lori Deaton

After meeting with the manager of the Asheville [Visitor Center gift shop] to discuss possibly selling her AHHH Asheville T-shirt bags designed in part to bring needed money to Homeward Bound, I was approached for money by a homeless veteran outside of Harris Teeter. He had me at “veteran who was temporarily homeless” (and very wet). I watched as the next people he approached closed their car doors and ears without making eye contact. Is homelessness contagious?

I moved here in June from West Virginia and have fallen in love with the diversity and beauty of our area. Unfortunately, part of that diversity is a disparity of economic means. Much has been written and discussed about rising housing costs due to us transplants. Mayor Esther Manheimer has pledged to end veteran homelessness and challenged landlords to step up with affordable housing, especially for veterans.

The short-term rental of homes to visitors is often perceived as exacerbating the problem. Let’s turn this “problem” into an opportunity. First, there seems to be consensus that visitors and transplants are not going away, and sites like Airbnb not only make Asheville more accessible to visit but also enable those of modest means to come [to] and/or live in Asheville.

Let’s establish fair regulations that ensure safety and needed revenue. Let’s add to the sales tax a portion to go toward affordable, permanent housing so that rather than “be bothered” by panhandlers, all may be housed in a warm, safe and dry home.

I found myself thinking about Asheville as I sang Stephen Foster’s song written in 1854:

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh! hard times come again no more

— Ian Rudick
Asheville transplant

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13 thoughts on “Letter writer: Let’s increase sales tax for affordable housing

  1. Jim

    No, let’s start making the people who own billions worth of land in the area that pay no property taxes start paying their fair share. Stop putting the burden on the working poor here because that’s what sales taxes do.

    • Do you mean tax-free entities like Mission Hospital and Givens Estates? Sounds good to me.

      Those property tax exemptions are allowed by state law. I challenge Mayor Esther Manheimer to step up and petition the state legislature to remove these expensive exemptions. Maybe she can convince our local delegation to interfere in local city affairs and draft a bill.

        • Zoom

          Biltmore pays property taxes. On the parcel containing the house itself, PIN 9637-94-4030-00000, for 2014 they paid almost a half million in property taxes according to public tax records.

          • Zoom

            That parcel includes 2194 acres. I see two other parcels one for 1,161.20 and one for 291 acres on which taxes are also assessed.

  2. N

    So we need to raise the sales tax for more affordable housing? Yet who ends up being hurt the most by an increase in the sales tax? The people who have the biggest problem finding housing they can afford. The sales tax is a regressive tax and hits the people who can least afford to pay the most. At 7% it is already a major burden and adding even another .25% will make that problem worse.

    • Ian

      Sorry. I meant raise the sales tax on short term rental propertues. Right now since it is illegal there are no sales taxes being collected.

    • RedHotPoker

      liberal progressives don’t understand the concept of more taxation hurting the poorest more…

      • hauntedheadnc

        Ah, but conservatives surely do, which is why they’ve raised taxes on the poor and middle class and lowered them for the rich! Why, don’t you know the poor must be punished, Mr. Caudle?

        • RedHotPoker

          So laughable that NC democrats are screaming about HIGH TAXES when THEY are the VERY ones who
          never saw a tax increase they didn’t LOVE prior to the current legislative correction … Democrats are EVIL jokers.
          Why do democrats seek to keep the POOR people even POORER and dependent on the taxpayers ???

          • RedHotPoker

            BECAUSE! democrats depend on the poor for their socialist voter base !!!

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