Government Accountability Project Asheville

GAP Report for 1/31/22

Jan 31, 2022

The County Commission meets this Tuesday (2/1/22) at 5 pm. Here is the full agenda.

Here are the items that the GAP Strategy Team identified as relevant to racial justice this week.


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Things that seem problematic

The County is proposing to increase the Code Purple budget by $40,000. Code Purple is the program that provides emergency assistance to the houseless when the temperature drops to dangerous levels.

While we support this allocation, we’re concerned that the County doesn’t appear to be collaborating with the City of Asheville or to have a clear comprehensive plan for addressing houselessness as a public health crisis.

Things to do

Contact the Buncombe County Commissioners and ask them how they plan to collaborate with the City of Asheville in developing a comprehensive plan for addressing houselessness.



Things of concern, more information needed

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program is a seasonal program that provides for a one-time vendor payment to help eligible households pay their heating bills. NC DHHS is providing funding from two sources to the County for a total of $1,887,432.

While we support this program, we wonder why there is no demographic data to show which populations are benefiting from it. The lack of data here contrasts with the data collected around the rental assistance program (see below).

Things to do

Contact Avril Pinder, the Buncombe County Manager (call her at 828-250-4100 or use this contact form) and ask her to prioritize collecting demographic data, such as race and neighborhood, so that it will be possible to analyze who is (and isn’t) receiving this benefit. (This is in contrast to the successful collection of Rental Assistance data, see below.)

Asheville Committee Meetings: Public Safety Committee Meeting (1/25/22)

Chief David Zack from the Asheville Police Department (APD) made a presentation about the City’s efforts to recruit new officers (you can see the report here: 6 – APD Update Public Safety – January 25, 2022), following up on City Council’s December allocation of $225,000 to a recruiting firm. In the meeting, Councilwoman Sheneika Smith raised some important questions about APD’s community engagement around this process.

We wonder what role the City’s Office of Equity and Inclusion has taken or plans to take in overseeing the City’s police officer recruitment. This process is one that they need to be prioritizing.

Things to do

Reach out to Brenda Mills, Director of Equity and Inclusion (call her at 828-232-4517 or email her) and urge her to mobilize her team to play an active oversight role in the City’s police officer recruitment.


Things that sound like a step in the right direction

Additional funding in the amount of $2,285,273 has been received from the state’s allocation of ERA 1 to be used following the same guidelines as ERA 1 on Rent and Utility payments. 

Because demographic data was collected around this program, we know that 32% of the inquiries were from Black community members, which is a good indicator that this program is being publicized in a racially equitable manner. (This successful data collection contrasts with the lack of data collection around the energy assistance program; see above)

Things to do

Contact Avril Pinder, the Buncombe County Manager (call her at (828) 250-4100 or use this contact form) and thank her for collecting racial demographic data, so that it is possible to analyze who is (and isn’t) receiving this benefit. (This is in contrast to the lack of data collection for the energy assistance program, see above.)