The Community Reparations Commission will hold their next meeting TONIGHT, Monday, May 15th 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. Meeting materials are available here. The meeting will be recorded and streamed here.
The Buncombe County Commission meets this Tuesday, May 16th, 2023 at 5 pm. You can attend the meeting at 200 College Street, Room 326 in downtown Asheville. You can watch the meeting online via Buncombe County’s Facebook page. The full agenda is here.
Use our prepared email template to take action on this week’s item.
Things of concern, more information needed
Asheville City Council (May 9th meeting) allocation of Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnerships Program in the Annual Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2023-24 (documents)
The Asheville City Council voted last week to award roughly $3.8 million in federal grant money, supporting a wide range of local programs “to create affordable housing and jobs and to make positive impacts in our low and moderate income communities.”
Reading through the list of organizations receiving funding last week, we noticed that all or almost all of them were white-led groups. We are confident that the City of Asheville would welcome the opportunity to fund more Black-led groups, but aren’t aware of what the City is doing to move in that direction. In past years, the Housing and Community Development (HCD) Committee and City Council emphasized capacity-building for Black-led organizations, so that more of them could apply for and receive this kind of funding. We were curious whether that effort has continued, and in what form. We reached out to HCD Chairperson Sage Turner several times last week, but received no response. We will continue to ask her and her HCD colleagues this question, and would encourage you to do the same.
Things to do
We encourage you to reach out to the the members of the Asheville Housing and Community Development Committee (Sage Turner, Sheneika Smith, and Antanette Mosley) and ask them what steps they have taken or are taking to increase the allocation of Community Development Block Grant and Home Investment Partnership Program participation by Black-led organizations.
We have prepared an email template that addresses this issue. You can (a) use our HCD template link to open up an email to adapt, (b) copy and paste the content below, or (c) write your own message to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updates on previous items
Follow Up: Community Responder Pilot Program Racial Equity Training
Last month, we raised questions about this pending program, based on a presentation by Asheville Fire Department Assistant Chief Captain Patrick Crudup at a recent Environment and Public Safety meeting. The stated goal of the program is “to focus collective efforts to assist persons that are unsheltered and/or experiencing addiction or experiencing behavioral health issues.” We asked whether the folks being placed in these new positions were going to receive any racial equity training, and if so, how that training would be implemented.
As we reported to you back on April 10th, GAP subscribers received similar responses from Council Members Sandra Kilgore and Maggie Ullman, and also from Chief Crudup, all asserting that the Community Responders would be receiving racial equity training from the City’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. Wanting to know more about the nature of this training, GAP reached out to the Equity and Inclusion Director Brenda Mills for more information on multiple occasions, without success. Last week, we invited you to join us in making this information request, and your efforts paid off. Public Records Officer Allison Byers sent us the results of a public records request from last summer, which included three racial equity training presentations developed by the City. (You can see these documents by clicking on the “documents” tab here.)
We appreciate this response from Ms. Byers, and have reviewed the documents she shared. We still have questions, which we sent to her and Director Mills, and we have yet to hear back. The racial equity trainings that were shared with us appear to be the same ones offered to all City employees. We wonder what additional training the Community Responders have received, since their work as first responders will likely put them in very unique circumstances as they interface with community members of color who are struggling with addiction and/or homelessness. We plan to keep asking Ms. Byers and Mills for a response, and will also reach out to Chief Crudup. We will share what we learn in a future GAP Report.
Things to do
We wanted to update you on this issue, but aren’t recommending any immediate action. We will be reaching out to Public Records Officer Allison Byers, Director of Equity and Inclusion Brenda Mills, and Asheville Fire Department Assistant Chief Captain Patrick Crudup with some follow up questions, and will update you further once we get responses.
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 members of City Council.
Send to: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Strategies for Addressing Racial Equity Gaps in Community Funding
Dear Housing and Community Development Committee Members Turner, Smith, and Mosley,
The organizations that will receive Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships Program funding this year are almost all white-led. I know that this racial equity gap isn’t one that you or your colleagues want. I have heard that in past years HCD and City Council gave considerable priority to capacity building for Black-led organizations, so that more of them could apply for and receive this kind of funding. I am curious to know if that effort has continued, and in what form. More broadly, I am curious what strategies your committee (and City Council) is engaging in toward changing the situation of this kind of federal funding going disproportionately to white-led organizations every year.
Thanks for your leadership,