by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
In fact, I honestly didn’t see it when I read the agenda a day or two before the meeting. Then again, $325,000 from the public treasury is practically invisible. It is no wonder the Buncombe County Commissioners breezed through the presentation before saying yes. The City of Asheville will give the project another $159,000. It is important to note that, as with seemingly all expenditures agenda-ed for the Buncombe County Commissioners, the $325,000 came from “existing” funds.
The donation was for a mixed-use development. Based on housing strategies that have worked in other communities, the idea is to provide a nurturing environment for Asheville’s hardest-to-house, the dually-diagnosed whose middle name is recidivism. They will have a building with wraparound services, but also in the complex will be persons with housing vouchers and “teachers, law enforcement, and social workers.” I think it a pity that landlords cannot discriminate on many grounds, but they can on the basis of profession. It allows a racist to say the black auto mechanic who applied was turned down because he wasn’t a teacher. But anyway.
The project made me think of two people. One was a nice guy, an intelligent young liberal named Jonathan. I knew him before as a nice, thoughtful person; but I elevated him to the level of prince after one city council meeting when somebody was trying to build halfway homes in his neighborhood. All the NIMBY’s love mixed-use development, and they, as usual, were out in force to complain about traffic, safety, and property values. Jonathan, speaking as an aside on another matter, said he lived in the neighborhood in question, and he would welcome the halfway houses. The people had to live somewhere. He was a citizen who cared about his brothers, and he was happy to pitch in and shoulder the burden. In almost fifteen years of attending these meetings, I don’t believe I’ve heard that spirit before or since.
The other person is me. I get off work at all hours of the dark, I remain rattled from having one schizophrenic stalker, and I live alone. I tip my hat to Jonathan, but I couldn’t do this even if I went back to teaching and could afford “affordable” rent.