Asheville’s affordable housing challenge won’t get solved with magical thinking

We are loading in hotels where affordable housing could go… and more higher paying white collar, ‘green collar’, and ’no collar’ jobs to help pay for higher quality housing for each citizen. People in poverty in Asheville have emergency level needs. Increasing net worth by cutting housing costs and increasing SNAP funds while raising the Federal poverty level limits are the big steps. I agree walkability is an issue, but there’s a range of basic economic equity matters that take higher priority.

Putting poverty in the past and folks having funds to engage with these downtown amenities is part of the way to make Asheville more inclusive.That’s different than continually raising property values and taxes. Policies with direct benefit to those currently at the base of the economic pyramid puts more cash in everyone’s pockets from the bottom to the middle of the economic ladder.

The new Accessory Dwelling Unit policy may have some potential, but there are many dependencies.Enforcement of STRs (short-term rentals) rules so new and existing ADUs within policy don’t go on the VRBO/Airbnb market is the trick. Are there violations now? How many? Are big property management firms at fault? Or mostly regular homeowners. Without serious enforcement we don’t know if ADUs are very much available to locals looking for an affordable decent rental.

STRs and Airbnb are not the be-all and end-all factors when it comes to affordable housing.The NY Attorney General found many concerns about Airbnb businesses that may apply down here too on basic principle? Airbnb is another overvalued, low labor SV investor boondoggle with little known community cost/benefit analysis.

And there’s reason to use the STR questions to go further in understanding the Asheville renter experience and what possible hope there is of low-income HUD clients moving into the housing free market.If enforcement changes for STRs, then it can be upgraded for LTRs (long-term rentals) when it comes to broken pipes, mold, etc… even if that means working around Raleigh.

More to follow here on COA’s affordable housing strategy. These are the details on some related aspects of Federal expenditures on Asheville’s affordable housing crisis.

  • CDBGs – Federal allocation has declined 25% since 2010
  • HOME – Federal allocation has declined 45% since 2010
  • LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credit program) – Much of our HOME and HTF (Housing Trust Fund) allocations support LIHTC projects, because of long-term affordability for low income households. Unlikely, however, to achieve more than one project locally (40-80 units) annually. Note: The NCGA did away with the state LIHTC.
Posted in Asheville, Innovation and Opportunity Ecosystem, Poverty Innovation.