Haywood Street Community Development in Asheville obtains city funding

ASHEVILLE – City council voted to become an early stage funder of a “very affordable” apartment complex, although the money could be lost if the project does not move forward.

The council voted on Oct. 26 in the face of a dire need for housing for Asheville’s poorest residents and a neighborhood divided over the proposal.

The 6-1 vote will pay $ 296,000 in due diligence fees for the Haywood Street community development project in the West End Clingman Avenue neighborhood near downtown. The money comes from $ 25 million in bond issues approved by voters in 2016.

If the 45-unit project goes ahead, Haywood Street Congregation Church and others behind it will look to the city for an additional $ 2.2 million. This will go towards a total estimated cost of $ 8.3 million, said those involved in the development.

Deputy Mayor Sheneika Smith said she supported the funding, despite the possibility the money could be lost. It was because of the desperation of those like a very ill former client and a current friend who was homeless. The friend had to rely on the Haywood Street Congregation’s respite program, but now had a home, said Smith, a former community development coordinator for the nonprofit Green Opportunities.

“Today she had a heart operation. It was an operation after an operation after an operation. And because she is homeless, I should pick her up and drop her off at your respite. I was so happy. that this time I didn’t have to drop her off at your respite I dropped her off in her new apartment.

Councilor Gwen Wisler, the only holdout, agreed the need was great. But Wisler said it wasn’t safe to commit money at an early stage when it wasn’t clear development could move forward. The other two potential major contributors are the Buncombe County government and the Dogwood Health Trust, which is distributing the money from the sale of the former non-profit mission hospital. The two have shown interest but have not made a commitment.

“My question is the following: is it premature for the city to commit to this type of fund with such a large funding gap?” said Wisler.

Following:Asheville Committee Takes New Look at Affordable Housing Requirements

Of the 45 apartments, 23 will go to the poorest residents. The remaining units will go to those who are better off and even work but earn less than the region’s median income. The developers gave examples of residents as single mothers, home helpers, and teachers.

The project divided WECAN, the area between the River Arts District and the city center. Among the opponents is Howard Hanger, a well-known resident who, like Haywood Street frontman Brian Combs, is a ordained Methodist minister.

Hanger did not speak at the October 26 virtual meeting, but resident and former professional cyclist Jamie Bookwalter did, saying the project – which would require zoning variation due to its size – was too much. great for the neighborhood whose homes are crammed onto steep, winding streets.

“Cars are regularly hit on these roads,” she said.

Bookwalter said some residents fear drug use and other issues associated with property around the main downtown Haywood Street campus.

“A lot of crime issues, you know, come from the owner of the proposed development. “

The West End Clingman Avenue neighborhood, or WECAN, is sometimes referred to as "Chicken Hill." It is bordered by I-240, Clingman Avenue, and Roberts Street, although some designations run down the border to the French Broad River.

Resident Hildy Teegen, however, said she had recently moved from Charleston, South Carolina to WECAN “specifically because I am interested in making a future life in a community that is committed to affordability and affordability. lodging”.

“I am deeply proud to be a part of the WECAN community. And I am very, very happy to support this particular project,” Teegen said.

Combs forbidden Haywood Street programs, saying that he accepts a lot of people rejected by society and isolated.

“We prefer relationships to rules. We welcome people unconditionally, many on their worst days.”

The eight-bed respite program is different, he said. It serves the chronically homeless, including those in need of a hospice.

“As a respite, the ministry’s rules are very different from what happens in the parking lot. For example, they don’t have visitors. There is no drug or alcohol use. We take people away. at their appointments. There is a follow-up. It is a closed establishment. “

He said they would contract with an experienced property manager, such as Givens Estates United Methodist, which manages 1,500 residents.

Combs said Haywood Street has already researched a dozen locations for the project. They recently pulled out of town ownership on Asheland Avenue south of the city center after revelations about its turbulent history with urban renewal and neighborhood repression.

Plans call for 45 "deeply affordable" apartments at 339 W. Haywood St. Haywood Street Community Development had not submitted official plans to the city by October 15, 2021, but it plans to do so in the coming weeks.  This elevation shows a provisional design.

Combes said other donors are monitoring what the city is doing.

Smith said it was important for Asheville to lead.

“It’s such a great need,” said the deputy mayor. “And I know it’s difficult. I know it’s a big risk. And I know we don’t want to be the first to get in. into something that I feel deeply compelled to do. “


  • At the 30% AMI level (someone earns up to $ 15,000 per year) – 13 one-bedroom, nine two-bedroom, and one three-bedroom units, for a total of 23 units.
  • At the 60% AMI level (someone earns up to $ 30,000 per year) – Five one-bedroom, three two-bedroom, one three-bedroom units, for a total of nine units.
  • 80% AMI level (person earning up to $ 42,000 per year) – Six one-bedroom units, six two-bedroom units, one three-bedroom unit, for a total of 13 units.

Joel Burgess has lived at WNC for over 20 years, covering politics, government and other news. He has written award-winning stories on topics ranging from gerrymandering to police use of force. Help us support this type of journalism with a subscription at the Citizen Times.

Norma P. Rex

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