The Buncombe County Commission meets this Tuesday, September 20, 2022 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.
The Community Reparations Commission is not meeting this Monday, September 19, 2022 as originally planned. Instead, they will be meeting for a two-day retreat this weekend: on Friday, August 23 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and then on Saturday August 24 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Both meetings will be held at the Asheville Housing Authority Board Room, located at 165 South French Broad Avenue in Asheville. Both meetings are in person and will not be streamed to the public, but the public is encouraged to attend.
Use our prepared email template to take action on this week’s items. (You can preview the full text of the template below the report. The link to the right will open this text as a draft email in your own email program, so you can personalize it.)
Things that seem problematic
County Commission Agenda – Public Hearing: Community Development Block Grant – Neighborhood Revitalization (Resolution, Presentation)
These block grants are federal funds awarded to the State through US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), designed to promote equitable, affordable housing, support existing communities; and/or value communities and neighborhoods.
These grants have been historically awarded to predominantly white organizations. In August, the County was presented with a “citizen participation plan,” and we raised the concern that there was nothing in it that indicated how organizations led by Black people and other people of color would be encouraged and/or supported in applying for this funding. Now the County is proposing to move forward without having addressed those concerns.
Things to do
We encourage you to reach out to the Buncombe County Commission via their contact page and encourage them to approve a “citizen participation plan” that specifically prioritizes the engagement of organizations led by Black people and other people of color. (Note: you can reach out about this particular issue alone using the link to the contact page; if you’d like to address all three of the GAP report issues, use the template, which you can preview below.)
Things of concern, more information needed
County Commission Agenda – Presentation: Tropical Storm Fred Disaster Recovery Program Update (Presentation)
This is an update from the North Carolina Office of State Budget on the spending to date for the Tropical Storm Fred Disaster Recovery Program.
The report spells out how much money has been spent, but not who received it, making it impossible for us (or anyone) to analyze the equity in the distribution of funds. We’d like to see the County Commission request this data from the NC Office of State Budget, so that we can all assess whether these funds were allocated in an equitable manner.
Things to do
We encourage you to reach out to the Buncombe County Commission via their contact page and encourage them to ask for demographic data on the recipients of the Disaster Recovery Program, so that the program’s equity impact can be assessed. (Note: you can reach out about this particular issue alone using the link to the contact page; if you’d like to address all three of the GAP report issues, use the template, which you can preview below.)
This is a presentation that documents the process of this Board, which oversees appeals to property assessments.
There is a well-documented national bias in the appeals process for Black and Latinx property owners, who are “less likely to appeal their assessment, less likely to succeed once they have filed an appeal, and, even after succeeding, receive a smaller reduction.” We wonder to what extent Buncombe County follows this trend, and would suggest that the County Commission request demographic data from the County Assessor and the Board of Equalization & Review so that the presence and extent of this problem can be identified.
Things to do
We encourage you to reach out to the Buncombe County Commission via their contact page and encourage them to ask for demographic data from the County Assessor and the Board of Equalization & Review so that potential inequities in the property assessment process can be identified. (Note: you can reach out about this particular issue alone using the link to the contact page; if you’d like to address all three of the GAP report issues, use the template, which you can preview below.)
EMAIL TEMPLATE TEXT
You can open this email in your own email program by clicking here. To proceed manually, you can paste this into the County Commissioners’ contact page or address it to them individually using these email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Racial Equity Issues Buncombe County Must Address
Dear County Commissioners,
I’m writing to you today to ask you to take some important steps toward ensuring greater racial equity in our County. I’m concerned that your “citizen participation plan” for the Community Development Block Grant program doesn’t specifically identify or address the fact that these grants almost always go to predominantly white organizations. I’d also encourage you to ask for racial demographic data from the two groups making presentations to you this week: the NC Office of State Budget and the Board of Equalization & Review, so that their work can be assessed with an equity lens. I read about these issues at https://gapavl.org/ and would encourage you to read their report.