Amid calls for increased public access to policing data, Asheville City Council left the city’s volunteer board dedicated to hearing residents’ concerns about law enforcement in place for now. At the same time, the elected officials noted many vacancies on the Citizens Police Advisory Committee and signaled their longterm intent to dissolve the body once the newly forming Human Relations Commission has gotten up and running.
Across the nation and in Western North Carolina, people are being held in jail for days, weeks, even months awaiting trial on misdemeanor charges, because they can’t raise the cash to get out. That, in turn, can lead to job loss and homelessness. Some attorneys now argue that this is tantamount to debtors prison, which is unconstitutional.
“Peace = justice = sharing. … But as Amy Cantrell asked me, ‘If we truly believe in peace and not war … what are we willing to risk to bring that about in the world?'”
While 2016 statistics show increasing availability in the area’s rental housing market, Asheville renters say their choices remain limited and prices steep. Several city initiatives — including a $25 million affordable housing bond referendum approved by voters in November — aim to bolster the supply of affordable housing, while some private-sector players are pursuing similar goals.
“I also believe it’s important to stress compassion regardless of the circumstances that lead someone to periods of homelessness.”
At a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 18, city of Asheville staff and police officers met with homeless activists and local nonprofit representatives to discuss a new law enforcement approach that focuses on more arrests in the city’s downtown. Responses varied, ranging from concerns about the impacts of a failing system to criticisms of the Asheville Police Department’s new strategy.
This afternoon about a dozen homeless persons and their advocates staged a brief but impassioned rally in Asheville’s Pritchard Park to denounce a City Council member’s call for photos of “vagrant/addict misbehavior.”