Archive for Local
From the Mountain Housing Opportunities website:
“Momma, when are we ever going to get a house?” It was a question Treva Williams’ youngest daughter, Cierra, always asked.
After 13 ½ years of living with five people in a two-bedroom apartment in River Glen apartments, Treva knew that it was time to take a leap of faith.
While living in the Mountain Housing Opportunities River Glen apartment complex, she received a mailing about the organization’s Self Help Home Ownership program. MHO’s Self-Help Homeownership program provides families and individuals in Buncombe County with low or moderate income an opportunity to achieve the American Dream of homeownership. The program makes owning homes affordable by allowing families to contribute “sweat equity” construction hours to reduce the cost of their homes. Families work together to build their homes under the guidance of an MHO construction supervisor. They invest “sweat equity” by helping to build not only their own home but all of the homes in the group, with no one moving in until all of the houses are complete.
“I took the mailing as a sign that I needed to look into this program, “ said Treva. “I knew it was a God given opportunity for me and my family.”
Your Buncombe County Democratic Party needs you. We’re getting organized to make some change in 2014 elections, and every registered Democrat is invited to be a part of it. After the jump please find the time and location of your precinct meeting. Not sure which precinct you’re in? Use this handy tool.
That was the original title for this essay generously published in the Mountain Xpress this week. Click through to read the whole thing. Excerpts:
I’m proud to be a part of a city where people care about each other. One recent study cited Asheville as one of the most generous cities in America, whose residents volunteer lots of time and money to make the world a better place. This is a community that knows we’re all in it together, and that’s why we’re going to be able to rise to the challenges facing us today.
We love living here, but we’re acutely aware of the fact that Asheville has a very high cost of living and very low median household income. Helping us get that median wage up are Living Wage Certified businesses that have made human value and dignity central to their business models. Great businesses like New Belgium Brewing, Linamar and PLI are helping too. The sad fact, however, is that too many employers here pay low wages for an honest day’s work. No one who works a full-time job ought to live in poverty. The city, county, Economic Development Coalition and Chamber of Commerce are working hard and all rowing in the same direction: toward better paying jobs. Asheville is examining our economic-incentive policies to better support homegrown entrepreneurs who pay living wages.
Asheville aspires to be a city of equal opportunity for all. Increasing incomes and offering affordable transportation options are two parts of a three-pronged approach to ensure a thriving city for generations to come.
The third leg of that three-legged stool is affordable housing, defined as spending no more than 30 percent of your income on housing costs. We all want a vibrant city where economically mobile citizens can get a leg up, and where the elderly and disabled can live in dignity. We want an Asheville where residents can save money toward homeownership, business startups, tuition and increased opportunities for their children. Without affordable housing, a big part of our Asheville family struggles just to stay afloat.
This is a guest post from the effervescent Amanda Rodriguez. Thanks for sharing your story, Amanda.
I moved to Asheville eight and a half years ago from Massachusetts because I hated big city life and bitter Boston winters. I also wanted to be closer to my grad school. While completing a low-residency program in Charlotte, I lived in Asheville and worked full-time, scraping to get by, supplementing my meager income with student loans. After graduating, I was still in love with Asheville, but I was buried under crippling student loan debt and the exorbitant cost of renting in the city. I wanted so badly to stay in Asheville, but it seemed like an impossibility. I was nowhere near hitting the 30K a year mark despite having a Masters degree.
When construction started on the Clingman Lofts, I became fascinated with them. As they took shape, their fun, funky aesthetic seemed perfect for me. I even crept into and explored them one night while they were still a work-in-progress. My heart ached at visions of the future that I imagined with myself cozy inside one of those lofts so close to downtown. My heart ached at the seemingly unattainable dream that I could be a homeowner in Asheville.
Affordable housing made that dream a reality. I’ve lived in my loft on Clingman Avenue for over five years now, and though the road to get here was rough, it was so very worth it. Using various programs throughout the city, I became a homeowner, and my monthly mortgage payments are even slightly less than I was paying to rent all those years ago. Because of affordable housing, I was able to set down roots in Asheville and make a life for myself. I was able to add myself to this vibrant community, contributing to the economy and the work force, contributing my intelligence, my creativity, and my diversity to my new home town.
I think of all the amazing and valuable people who’ve essentially been pushed out of Asheville because the wages are too low and the cost of living too high. I’m fearful of the trend towards gentrification that seeks to homogenize a city that is a renowned tourist destination because of its eclectic community. Affordable housing is vital to attracting and retaining talented people in our city, to fostering diversity, and to keeping Asheville weird.
When the NC General Assembly political advertisements rain down upon us later this year, you’ll be hearing a lot about the tax cuts being peddled as good for the little guy. Yes, the cuts will further reduce resources for education, mental health, and other important services. Yes, the cuts will give the wealthiest North Carolinians some nice wallet padding, some of which will trickle down into campaign coffers. The thing that NC Policy Watch wants everyone to know is that these tax cuts are actually a tax increase on most of us. Please bookmark this post – you will need it to counter the coming disinformation campaign from the ruling party.
66—percentage of tax cut passed by the 2013 General Assembly that will go to the wealthiest one percent of North Carolinians (“Final tax plan puts at risk what makes North Carolina great,” N.C. Budget & Tax Center, August, 2013)
940,000—amount in dollars of annual income of wealthiest one percent of North Carolinians (Ibid)
80—percentage of North Carolina taxpayers—the bottom 80 percent—who will pay more under the tax plan approved by the General Assembly this summer that also allows the state Earned Income Tax Credit expire for low-wage workers (Ibid)
2,898—amount in dollars of tax INCREASE for married non-elderly couple with two kids with a small business income of $80,000 (Ibid)
262—amount in dollars of tax INCREASE for married couple with two children with an annual income of $20,000 (N.C. General Assembly Fiscal Research Division)
2,318—amount in dollars of the DECREASE in taxes for a married couple with two children with an annual income of $250,000 (Ibid)
23—number of days since state tax deductions ended for retirement income, small businesses, unreimbursed job expenses and college 529 savings plans, all part of the 2013 tax plan passed by the General Assembly
This is a guest post from Asheville’s very talented Jen Bowen. Thanks for sharing your story, Jen.
“Having an affordable, safe place to live has been my key to staying in Asheville and continuing to invest in this community.”
Flashback to early summer 2009 – I’m renting a small house in downtown Asheville, just finishing my ‘Faces of Asheville’ photography exhibit, considering a run for City Council to represent the arts sector for Asheville, and employed as an Office Manager for a wonderful locally based national touring arts organization.
Then, due to oops & miracles, I found myself pregnant. Faced with a difficult decision I decided to proceed with the pregnancy and make the best of the situation. The first half of the pregnancy was horrible, filled with debilitating morning sickness at all hours of the day. Within a short time it was obvious that the effects of the pregnancy were not going to allow me to keep working a full-time schedule. I was left with no other option but to resign my position and live off my savings for a period of time.
Jump forward a few months to the winter of 2009, and I find myself ready to burst and living in the spare room at my parent’s house, savings dwindled away in four months. It’s difficult to find part-time jobs that pay better than $8/hr (for the record a living wage in 2009 was $11/hr – currently it hovers around $13/hr – and those rates are for people who do not have any dependents), not to mention a job that holds any personal meaning or will even consider hiring an obviously pregnant woman. Thankfully due to community service in the arts sector I was fortunate enough to stumble across a new part-time position with the Cultural Arts Division at the City of Asheville. It was pretty much my dream job opportunity, and due to the nature of the position I was able to work from home with my baby for the first few months. The only downfall? The position was such that it would never come with a raise or promotion, and it was capped at $10K a year. I decided that for my daughter’s early life I would resign myself to doing my best and use government and other community programs to make ends meet. I set a goal of 5 years or less to get into a place where I would no longer need government assistance.
ALEC’s corporate members consult with legislators across the country, working in secret, fearing to push their radical agenda in public like ordinary citizens.
You always knew that someone in authority would simply declare the drinking water safe no matter what the truth, rather than, you know, tearing out and replacing fouled piping in 300,000 homes and the surrounding environs.
On January 18, 2014, Dr. Ben Stout, an ecologist from Wheeling Jesuit University, took water samples from the kitchen faucet and hot water tank of an unflushed Charleston, West Virginia home. Stout is testing for crude 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, which leaked from a storage tank at Freedom Industries in Charleston, West Virginia into the Elk River on January 9 (possibly January 8). Residents in 9 counties receive their water from the Elk River.
Stout suggests that people manually flush their hot water tank for the 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol is likely forming an oily ring in the tank. The 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol smells like cherry licorice, is light, oily and floats to the top of water.
Rep. Tim Moffitt’s legislation to terminate (with extreme prejudice) the city’s control of its water system is in the courts. So it’s been quiet lately. Still, file this away for future reference. If things don’t change in Raleigh soon, you might need it.
This report from Europe is from last March, but does this sound familiar or what? [Emphasis mine.]
The European Commission has in recent weeks gone on a PR offensive in response to growing criticism of its pro-privatisation agenda for the water sector …