Government Accountability Project Asheville

REPORT BACK ARCHIVE

Non-Discrimination Ordinances Seem Ineffective

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RED:

Things that seem problematic

Asheville and Buncombe County Non-Discrimination Ordinances

In the 5/6/24 GAP Report, we highlighted the lack of any findings of discrimination in the three years since non-discrimination ordinances were passed by both the Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Commission, despite 55 complaints being initiated.

Our Ask

We encouraged the Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Commission to investigate why many complainants dropped out of the process, and to consider amending and improving the ordinances and review process so they might be more effective.

Please see the GAP Report for 5/6/24 for more details about this issue and how you can advocate with us.

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REPORT BACK STATUS

Unresolved

We are aware of no response from elected officials in either government. We encourage you to keep reaching out to them and advocating for action. Our email template is at the bottom of our 5/6/24 GAP Report.

GAP Supporter Actions Taken: 9

Recipients and Responses:

Asheville City Council

  • Mayor Esther Manheimer: No response
  • Vice Mayor Sandra Kilgore: No response
  • City Council Member Antanette Mosley: No response
  • City Council Member Kim Roney: No response
  • City Council Member Maggie Ullman: No response
  • City Council Member Sage Turner: No response
  • City Council Member Sheneika Smith: No response

Buncombe County Commission

  • County Commission Chairman Brownie Newman: No response
  • County Commissioner Al Whitesides: No response
  • County Commissioner Amanda Edwards: No response
  • County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara: No response
  • County Commissioner Martin Moore: No response
  • County Commissioner Parker Sloane: No response
  • County Commissioner Terri Wells: No response

Asheville City Council supports affordable housing projects

GREEN:

Things that sound like a step in the right direction

Asheville City Council considers supporting affordable housing projects

In the 4/22/24 GAP Report, we summarized six affordable housing projects coming before the Asheville City Council on April 23rd, each seeking Housing Trust Funds. Four of these six seemed to offer at least some deep affordability that could benefit Black and Latine residents.

Our Ask

We encouraged City Council to approve four projects for Housing Trust Funds, and reject the other two.

Please see the GAP Report for 4/22/24 for more details about this issue and how you can advocate with us.

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REPORT BACK

Positive Outcome

Report Back

City Council approved five of the six projects. They approved all of the projects we recommended, and rejected one of the two we suggested they reject. They did approve the Mountain Housing Opportunities Down Payment Assistance program (for just one year, rather than the requested five), which we had suggested they turn down because it was only targeting would-be homeowners at 80% of Area Median Income. This level of affordable housing is typically not affordable to Black and Latine families, who average 50% AMI. At the meeting, Asheville Affordable Housing Officer Sasha Vrtunski explained this program in more depth. While this expansion won’t directly offer deeper affordability, the overall program supports would-be homeowners making 62% of AMI. We still don’t think this project warrants a green flag, but we’ve heard enough to withdraw our opposition.

GAP Supporter Actions Taken: 16 (as of 5/9/24)

Recipients and Responses:

  • Mayor Esther Manheimer: No response
  • Vice Mayor Sandra Kilgore: No response
  • City Council Member Antanette Mosley: No response
  • City Council Member Kim Roney: No response
  • City Council Member Maggie Ullman: No response
  • City Council Member Sage Turner: No response
  • City Council Member Sheneika Smith: No response

Southside Community Farm threatened with closure

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RED:

Things that seem problematic

Asheville Housing Authority proposes closure of Southside Community Farm

In the 4/15/24 GAP Report, we drew your attention to the potential closure of the Southside Community Farm (SCF) by the Housing Authority for the City of Asheville (HACA), in order to build a playground and “protect” the Arthur R. Edington Education and Career Center.

We made a case, citing SCF and other local community supporters, that we think HACA’s reasoning understates and undermines the value of this essential resource to the establishment of Black food sovereignty in Asheville and its benefits to Black neighbors and the larger community.

Our Ask

We encouraged the HACA Board to listen to community members, and we encouraged you to sign SCF’s petition and support their efforts to preserve their farm and its valuable contributions to Black neighbors and the larger community.

Please see the GAP Report for 4/15/24 for more details about this issue and how you can advocate with us.

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REPORT BACK

Unresolved

The HACA Board met on Wednesday, April 24th, but the proposed closure of Southside Community Farm was taken off the agenda and not discussed. A huge crowd turned out in support of the Farm, so many that a lot of people couldn’t get into the auditorium due to fire regulations. One observer estimated that between 200 and 300 people showed up. We will let you know as we hear of further developments or requests for support from Farm leaders.

GAP Supporter Actions Taken: Unknown

The Southside Community Farm petition we asked GAP supporters to sign had 2083 signatures when we released our report, and has 28920 as of April 29th. GAP supporters likely contributed to this increase.

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