Highest on city staff’s list of potential funding priorities were affordable housing, public engagement, homelessness, public and mental health, small business recovery and workforce development.
It’s a rainy Thursday in West Asheville when the word “overdose” crackles over the radio dispatch. Jamie Judd, emergency medical services division manager for Buncombe County Emergency Services, immediately turns on his siren and increases speed. The late afternoon traffic on Patton Avenue is clogged; vehicles aren’t pulling to the side to let this emergency […]
“Just as mental, physical and socioeconomic conditions are not lifestyles, neither is homelessness; it is an outcome of those conditions.”
“We need to invest in ourselves — pay living wages, build or convert affordable housing, expand public transportation, house the homeless, focus spending on the people who live here.”
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.
At 4.61 percent in 2016, North Carolina ranked 5th in the nation in its eviction rate, almost twice as high as the national eviction rate of 2.34 percent that year. Franklin resident Donna, and her partner, C., are two of the many Western North Carolina renters impacted by eviction.
Asheville has issued removal orders for camps at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Aston Park, along Cherry and Hill streets and at Riverbend Park near the Walmart Supercenter on Bleachery Boulevard in East Asheville.
“[The funding is] intended to be a pandemic response; it’s not actually intended to end homelessness. It just is, happily, an opportunity for us to end homelessness, because that is also a response to the coronavirus,” says Emily Ball, homeless services lead for the city of Asheville.
“I, like you, worry about the sharp rise in homelessness, but urban gardens are not to blame in the least.”
“So, the paradoxical situation is that we pay taxes to allow destruction of humans’ property, means of surviving and dignity, while we voluntarily pay to improve those circumstances.”
“All land served by sewer lines is desperately needed for housing, both to end homelessness and to save fuel by reducing commuting distances.”
“I’m certain I can’t be the first to wonder why the St. Joe’s campus side of Mission Hospital couldn’t become a resource for housing hundreds of people just like that?!”
“We must recognize that as long as we prioritize more hotels, more restaurants, more new construction (none of which is wholly bad), we must also acknowledge the consequences of those priorities — the displacement of people on the margins — and find ways to sustainably address them.”
“The reason for this extraordinary housing retention rate is Homeward Bound doesn’t just put people in homes and forget about them; we provide ongoing support called case management.”
“Why are we expecting people to be in some other circumstance without considering the system that fails them? Where’s the rope and toehold?”
“Pity is sadness for one’s misfortune and keeps you in the past, but an exchange in goods and sharing of resources moves you forward.”
“Our brightest moment is when we move someone out of homelessness and their life changes for the better. Michelle is a great example of this.”