Government Accountability Project Asheville

The Community Reparations Commission meets TONIGHT, Monday, April 22nd from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The meeting will be held at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center Banquet Hall at 87 Haywood Street in Asheville. The public is welcome to attend. Meeting materials are available here. The meeting will be recorded and streamed at the City’s YouTube page.

The Asheville City Council meets this Tuesday, April 23rd, 2023 at 4 pm (one hour earlier). You can attend the meeting at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center Banquet Hall at 87 Haywood Street in Asheville (rather than the usual location in City Hall). You can watch the meeting online at this link.The full agenda for the formal meeting is here.

URGENT

  • 0 Items

PROBLEMATIC

  • 2 Items

CONCERNS

  • 0 Items

POSITIVE

  • 1 Item

EMAIL TEMPLATES

Use our prepared email template to take action on this week’s item.

q

RED:

Things that seem problematic

Follow Up: Asheville Housing Authority proposes closure of Southside Community Garden

This call to action is ongoing.

Things to do

Read our original 4/15/24 GAP Report and use our email template to take action.

Outcomes

You can read our report back on this issue here.

Follow Up: Asheville 2024-2025 Budget – 2023 Asheville Disparity Study – Business Inclusion Office Funding

This call to action is ongoing.

Things to do

Read our original 4/8/24 GAP Report and use our email template to take action.

Outcomes

You can read our report back on this issue here.

GREEN:

Things that sound like a step in the right direction

Item

City Council will consider whether to use Housing Trust Funds to support six different affordable housing projects:

  1. Star Point Apartments, 60 rental units, serving households at 30%, 50%, and 60% of Area Median Income (AMI).
  2. Roers Affordable, 126 rental units, all of which will be available at 60% AMI or below.
  3. Overlook 157, 72 rental units, offered at 80% AMI.
  4. Hospitality Houses, 2 rental units, offered at 30% of AMI.
  5. Mountain Housing Authority – Down Payment Assistance, 25 homeownership opportunities, targeted at folks making 80% of AMI.
  6. Habitat for Humanity – Down Payment Assistance, 4 homeownership opportunities, targeted at folks making 60% of AMI or below.

For some time, we have been encouraging the City of Asheville to prioritize more deeply affordable housing. Research by Thrive Asheville, done in partnership with the City, demonstrated persuasively that so-called “affordable” units targeted at those making 60 or 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) actually leads to greater inequities in housing access. Most Black and Latine families in our region have a median income that is below 50% of AMI, and so truly affordable and racially just housing must address this reality.

The projects coming before the Asheville City Council this week are a mixed bag, but we see some with real promise. The Star Point Apartments, Roers Affordable, Hospitality Houses, and Habitat for Humanity projects all seem worth funding. We do not think that the Overlook 157 project, which only offers units at 80% AMI for just eight years, is a good use of Housing Trust Fund dollars, and are pleased that City staff agree and recommend that City Council deny that request. We are similarly unimpressed with the Mountain Housing Authority Down Payment Assistance request, because it similarly targets families making 80% AMI, which everyone knows will exclude almost all Black and Latine would-be homeowners. City staff recommend approving only 20% of the requested amount; we’d suggest passing on it altogether.

Things to do

Write to the Asheville City Council and encourage them to approve four of the six affordable housing projects requesting Housing Trust Funds.

We have prepared an email template below that you can use to contact the Asheville City Council.

Outcomes

Check back later this week for a report back on this call to action.

EMAIL TEMPLATE TOOL

Fill out the form below and click the “start writing” button to open up our email tool. By using the tool, you will enable us to track how many emails were sent overall in the campaign. You will be able to edit, adapt, and/or personalize the content in the tool, and then it will send individual emails to each of the designated recipients. The email tool will automatically include a greeting at the top (e.g. “Mayor Manheimer”) and will also include your name, email address, and city at the bottom.

If you prefer not to use our tool, you can send an email to the addresses below. We ask that you send us a copy at info@gapavl.org so we can add your email to the tally of emails sent.

EMAIL TEMPLATE TEXT

To: AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov
CC or BCC: info@gapavl.org
Subject: Investing in more deeply affordable housing

Dear City Council Members,

At your meeting this week, you will consider six affordable housing projects seeking Housing Trust Funds. Four of these seem like solid proposals that will offer at least some deeply affordable housing to those making 50% Area Median Income (AMI) or below. I encourage you to approve them. I agree with the staff recommendation that you reject the use of these funds for the Overlook 157 project: 80% of AMI for only eight years is too little for too short a time. I also think you should push back on the Mountain Housing Authority Down Payment Assistance program, which will only target those making 80% AMI; as you know, this would almost entirely exclude Black and Latine would-be homeowners, who have a median income that is below 50% of AMI.

Thanks for your leadership,