Use our prepared email template to take action on this week’s item.
Things that seem problematic
Asheville Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting, October 4, 2023: A request to conditionally rezone property located at 2 Butler Rd from Community Business II to Residential Expansion – Conditional Zone (staff memo)
Developers are asking for a zoning change in order to build a total of 279 units in five 4- to 5-story multi-family buildings. They plan for 10% of the units to be “affordable at 80% Area Median Income (AMI) for a minimum of 20 years.” The developers don’t plan to offer any of their units to those with HACA Housing Choice Vouchers.
A recent analysis by Thrive Asheville (which you can read in its entirety here) demonstrates persuasively that so-called “affordable housing” for those earning 80% Area Median Income (AMI) “actually (increases) the disparity of available homes to those most in need and households with children.” Black and Latinx families in our region have a median income that is below 50% of AMI. The same term of “affordable housing” is used for projects that offer units at 50% of AMI or below, so the developers’ description of these proposed units obscures the important distinction between these offerings. We would suggest that housing offered at 50% of AMI or below retain the title “affordable housing.” Housing offered at 80% AMI, such as the small number of units in this project, would be more accurately entitled “affordable housing almost exclusively for white people.” We think the Asheville City Council should consider this analysis when they consider the 2 Butler Road project at their November 14, 2023 meeting. Or, if City Council members disagree with Thrive Asheville’s analysis, we would invite them to share their own assessment of the housing situation.
Things to do
Write to the Asheville City Council and ask them if they have read the Thrive Asheville report, and whether they agree that a more accurate term for so-called “affordable housing” at 80% AMI or above is “affordable housing almost exclusively for white people.” They might advise City staff to use that language in future staff memos for increased transparency on projects such as the rezoning of 2 Butler Rd.
We have prepared an email template that addresses this issue. You can (a) use our City Council template link to open up an email to adapt, (b) copy and paste the content below, or (c) write your own message to AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov.
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 the address listed. Please consider making edits that reflect your personal interests and concerns on this issue.
Send to: AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov
Subject: Increasing transparency on so-called “affordable housing”
Dear City Council Members,
I was recently made aware of Thrive Asheville’s 2023 Opening Doors report, completed “in collaboration with City staff and housing experts.” It documents that much of so-called “affordable housing,” which is only available to families making 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) or above, is actually not affordable to almost all Black and Latinx families.
You have a rezoning request scheduled for your November 14, 2023 meeting to facilitate a proposed housing project at 2 Butler Road. In the staff memo that accompanied this project’s presentation before the Planning and Zoning Commission, it was claimed that this project promotes the availability of affordable housing, because it offers 10% of its units at 80% AMI. But Thrive Asheville’s analysis points out that “building more units for households making… 80% AMI and above may actually increase the disparity of available homes to those most in need and households with children.” Are you willing to bring this issue up with the developers so that there is greater transparency about those who will benefit (and those who will not) from this project? Or, if you disagree with Thrive Asheville’s analysis, can you offer your own assessment?
Thank you for your leadership,