Lacy Hoyle spoke about the local priorities for addressing homelessness, how she incorporates the views of those who have different beliefs than she does about its causes and misconceptions about the homeless population.
Xpress readers engaged with a wide range of local issues in 2023 — from concerns about downtown Asheville to infrastructure priorities, a possible single-use plastic bag ban, education issues and more.
At first glance, the dispute between Grace Episcopal and the Facebook group members seems a clear-cut case of how social media can effect change: A concerned resident encouraged like-minded people to contact the church, they did, and the church declined to serve as a host site. Viewed through a different lens, however, the incident highlights the potential for harm that can result from jumping to conclusions — and then broadcasting them via social media.
Asheville City Council will vote on funding to support 43 new high-access shelter beds to aid the homelessness crisis. If approved, the city would enter an interlocal agreement with Buncombe County, with each of the two municipalities allocating $875,000 of their ARPA funding to support the initiative.
City leaders are considering tightening Asheville’s panhandling ordinances — which may include new regulations as to how and when drivers can give to roadside solicitors.
At a Downtown Commission meeting July 14, Assistant City Manager Rachel Wood said that portions of the 60-day downtown safety and cleanliness pilot have transitioned into ongoing services.
Prevention of infections is a crucial part of wound care and decreases the need for antibiotic use. But regularly accessing antibiotics, fulfilling prescriptions and taking medication can present obstacles for many people.
“Another suggestion is that we could charge property taxes that reflect the amount of time the property is inhabited. More tax for fewer days occupied.”
The majority of the June 2 CIBO meeting focused on plans for the Sweeten Creek Mental Health and Wellness Center, a 120-bed hospital that will provide behavioral health services.
Four firefighters compose the team — two primarily reaching out to people who may be unhoused or experiencing a behavioral health issue, and two primarily meeting with downtown business owners to address their needs and concerns.
“The purpose of this letter is … to motivate city/county residents to question the priorities of the APD and the DA in these times of staff shortages and increased serious crime, along with the dire situation of homelessness in Asheville.”
“It is blatantly obvious to me that there are many homeless advocates and agencies in such a small city, yet rarely do I read about collaboration and true problem-solving for the social issues among these agencies.”
“I feel like if this situation isn’t seriously addressed, it will have a long-term negative effect on Asheville and its many businesses that rely on tourism.”
“It has become a place where local people cannot afford to live and many of us no longer want to visit.”
“I have felt a creepy vibe when I have gone downtown because of the difficulty of finding parking and the homeless folks camped out on sidewalks.”
“The lack of regular patrolling invites chaos and boundary testing. This has been a long-running issue and can only be solved by a community united by bold government leadership.”
“How could things have gotten this bad without intervention? How quickly will this situation of fear and crime be turned around?”
Violent and disturbing incidents downtown are leaving workers frustrated and frightened. One business owner at an Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce listening session asked the assembled crowd, “How many people have to get assaulted?”
Evictions in Asheville have returned to pre-pandemic levels, and many evictions begin when a tenant has raised concerns about housing conditions, says David Bartholomew, the nonprofit’s homelessness prevention services director.
Tom Tesser was one of several commenters from the Asheville Coalition for Public Safety, a recently formed advocacy group that looks to build support for the APD. Five of the nine speakers on budget matters sought larger salaries for police officers and shared their personal experiences of downtown crime and safety issues.
“What we can’t do is continue pretending that headlines, hand-wringing, a lack of diverse thinking, anger, studies, politicians, enabling and spending other people’s money will create the solutions.”