The Buncombe County Commission meets this Tuesday, January 3rd, 2022 at 5 pm. You can attend the meeting at 200 College Street, Suite 326 in downtown Asheville. You can watch the meeting online at the County’s facebook page. The full agenda is here.
The Community Reparations Commission will hold their next meeting next Monday, January 9th, 2022, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The meeting is being held at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center Banquet Hall at 87 Haywood Street in Asheville. The public is welcome to attend the entire session. The meeting will be recorded and streamed here.
Use our prepared email templates to take action on this week’s items.
Things of concern, more information needed
County Commission Agenda – Manager Report: Strategic Plan – Vibrant Economy Follow-up
The slides provided reveal important information about the local economy. For example, “Buncombe County… average wages are flattening while North Carolina average wages are continuing to rise.” The report also details various economic inequities, most prominently the different cost burden faced by people who rent housing in contrast to homeowners.
We are struck by the lack of racial demographic data or analysis of racial inequities in this report. Was that data not collected? If not, why not? And if it was collected, why is it not included in a report that details other forms of inequity?
Things to do
We encourage you to reach out to Buncombe County Manager Avril Pinder about this issue, asking her to explain why there is no racial demographic data or analysis of racial inequities in assessing the local economy. Click here for an email template or see below for her email address and a sample email you can adapt and send her.
County Commission Agenda – New Business: Budget Amendment for NC PRO Emergency Rental Assistance 2 (ERA2) Grant (Ordinance, Slideshow)
This is a summary of money that has already been spent on COVID-19-related emergency rental assistance over the past few years (almost $20 million), along with a proposed use of an additional $8 million in federal funds going forward.
Once again, we wonder why this presentation on money spent so far and plans for the use of federal dollars doesn’t include any racial demographic data or racial analysis. People of color were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and therefore should have received (and should receive moving forward) more of this funding. Have they? Will they? Without any data or analysis from the County, it’s impossible to tell. Buncombe County declared racism a public health crisis, and Health and Human Services has recently embarked on a series of initiatives to improve their racial equity lens (which we reported on here). We’d like to see that lens applied to the important ongoing work of supporting folks grappling with housing challenges in light of COVID-19.
Things to do
We encourage you to reach out to Stoney Blevins and Phillip Hardin from the County’s Health and Human Services and ask them why there are no racial demographics in their presentation on past impact and request for additional funding. Click here for an email template or see below for their email addresses and a sample email you can adapt and send them.
COUNTY MANAGER EMAIL TEMPLATE TEXT
You can open this email in your own email program by clicking here. To proceed manually, you can copy and paste the text below into an email and then address it to County Manager Avril Pinder.
Send to: Avril.Pinder@buncombecounty.org
Subject: Why isn’t Buncombe County sharing information on racial inequities?
Dear County Manager Pinder,
I’m writing about your report to the County Commission entitled “Strategic Plan – Vibrant Economy Follow-up.” In the slides, you point out inequities in economic status for different genders, abilities, and housing situations (among others). However, you don’t include any data or analysis when it comes to race. Given the history of extreme racial inequity in our region, why did you choose to omit this from your report?
Thanks for your leadership,
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES EMAIL TEMPLATE TEXT
You can open this email in your own email program by clicking here. To proceed manually, you can copy and paste the the text below into an email and then address it to Health and Human Services Director Stoney Blevins and Economic Services Division Director Phillip Hardin.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Why isn’t racial data and analysis part of your presentation?
Dear Mr. Blevins and Mr. Hardin,
I am writing about your presentation to the County Commission on emergency housing. I’m curious about why you didn’t include any data on the impact of past COVID-19-related Rental Assistance programs across different racial demographics, and your projections for future impact along similar lines. I know that you have given recent priority to improving HHS’ racial equity lens. This would seem to be an important place to apply that lens, given the disparities in the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, and the historical tendency for those communities to be underserved by relief programs.
Thanks for your leadership,