Buncombe County’s latest Point-In-Time count — meant to record every resident sleeping on the streets, at a shelter or in transitional housing on a single night — found 232 unsheltered residents in January 2022, up from the 116 people counted a year before. Overall homelessness in the county increased by about 21% over the same period.
An exchange between protesters and Asheville City Council member Sandra Kilgore marked the start of Council’s March 17-18 retreat, where the elected officials heard feedback from top city staffers and plotted their approach to the coming year.
In February, Asheville unveiled a plan to reduce the number of advisory groups from 20 to four. Each of those boards would be capped at 11 members, meaning the number of residents who serve in a regular advisory role would be cut by roughly 80%.
During a presentation, Capt. Mike Lamb of the Asheville Police Department cited data showing that 10% of overall crime in Asheville from Jan. 1, 2020 to Jan. 9, 2022 — including 14% of violent crime and 8.5% of property crime — occurred within 500 feet of an encampment.
Approximately 65 people, mostly city employees and public officials, participated in an Oct. 20 ribbon-cutting atop the North Fork Reservoir and Water Treatment Plant dam’s new auxiliary spillway, one of several upgrades to the facility’s safety and climate resilience.
The proposed location for the affordable development is located in the West End/Clingman Avenue Neighborhood. All of the apartments would be reserved for people earning less than 80% of the area median income ($60,100 for a family of four); up to half of those units could be available for those earning 30% AMI or less.
Newly formed Asheville nonprofit Accessing Needed Crisis and Critical Help Outreach and Resources is proposing a low-barrier, high-access shelter that would forego many of the usual rules for tenants. Start-up costs could reach $6.5 million, with annual operating costs of $3 million, and would initially be funded through Asheville’s approximately $26.1 million in federal coronavirus relief.
Some additional revenue will be needed to fund a growing list of priorities for the 2021-22 annual operating budget, city staffers suggested at an April 27 Asheville City Council budget work session.
As the sometimes contentious discussions unfolded, members grappled with ambitious priorities for the upcoming year, and, perhaps more importantly, what their working relationships would look like for the next 18 months.
“I’m looking forward to the day we can have a centerpiece in our city that reflects Asheville today,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. “And I’m proud to be part of the Council that will make this change.”
“Families of color have unfairly limited elementary school options for their children because the district is mandated to maintain antiquated racial quotas that were put into place 30 years ago,” writes Asheville City Schools Superintendent Gene Freeman.
Following a pair of votes for different methods of picking the school board at Council’s meeting of March 9, the final say on its composition now rests with the N.C. General Assembly, which must pass legislation to enact any change.
The new regulations allow hotels with 115 rooms or fewer to avoid a Council vote if they meet a series of design requirements, are located in a newly approved overlay district and contribute to equity-related public benefits.
After months of discussion, two Council work sessions and multiple opportunities for public engagement, frustrated residents told Asheville City Council the final hotel proposals did little to advance equity or support employees working in the service industry.
Members will discuss the final proposed guidelines to streamline future lodging development — and residents will have one last chance to weigh in — before the city’s hotel moratorium expires on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Currently, the body reviews promotional criteria for Asheville police and fire staff and hears certain employee grievances. If adopted, the rules would outline a two-part test to determine if a dispute rises to the level of a CSB hearing.
On Dec. 8, Asheville City Council voted to move forward with the removal of the downtown obelisk, which memorializes Confederate Gov. Zebulon Vance. Sandra Kilgore was the only member in opposition.
Mayor Esther Manheimer emailed Xpress the evening of Dec. 7 to say that Council was moving the Vance item from reports to new business, allowing for both public comment and a vote. She did not immediately respond to a request for clarification regarding the rationale behind that change.
Two work sessions have brought Asheville City Council members a little closer to agreement on an approach to hotels. And with the city’s hotel development moratorium set to expire on Tuesday, Feb. 23, time is running out to craft a plan.
Environmental advocates urged Asheville City Council to adopt a series of proposals to strengthen protections for Asheville’s urban forests.
Asheville made national headlines the night of June 2, when Asheville Police Department officers destroyed medical supplies and forcibly handled volunteer medics during international protests for racial justice. Xpress spoke with several people present at the medic station; they say the reasons for their outrage go far beyond the damage to supplies.