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Posts published in “Housing”

A Box Full of Cash and an Empty Promise

In Part 3: “If this is legal, it shouldn’t be,” a local lawmaker says

Most homeowners could never fathom strangers acquiring a portion of their property, obtaining a court order to sell it without their consent and depriving them of the value they’d accrued over years or decades of ownership.

There are legal protections against that, Tasha D’Ascanio thought — until it happened to her.

D’Ascanio and her uncle, Derrell Ray Pettit Jr., had each inherited half of a one-acre tract just outside West Asheville, with a tax value of $123,600, that had been home to three generations of their family.

But investors including Robert Perry Tucker II acquired the land and through an exploitive but legal process cut the family out of its fortune, an Asheville Watchdog investigation found. In the end, D’Ascanio got nothing, and Pettit ended up homeless for five months.

“I don’t know what happened,” D’Ascanio,

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Imperfectly Legal: Forced Sales Hurt Heirs, Poor Homeowners

Part 2: Asheville-area investors exploit Jim Crow-era law

Five hundred dollars was all it took for Robert Perry Tucker II to gain an interest in an Asheville home that had been owned by a Black family since 1918. 

Two elderly heirs signed deeds selling their shares of the home to a Tucker company for $250 apiece. With their ownership in hand, Tucker’s company used a Reconstruction-era law to force a sale of the entire property, and another Tucker company bought it at auction for $3,750.

The eight heirs whose family had owned the property for a century received $445 each, the auction commissioner reported. The Tucker company that bought the property sold it in three months for $55,000.

Robert Tucker, left, and his attorney, Peter Henry, at an April hearing held virtually in Buncombe County Superior Court.READ MORE

Real Estate Deals Strip Elderly, Poor of Homes, Land, and Inheritances

In Part 1 of our series, a local investor is accused of fraud

Mary Thompson lost 17 years of home equity. Photo credit: Pat Barcas, Asheville Watchdog

Many were elderly or Black homeowners in distress. Some were vulnerable to a Reconstruction-era property law abused so often that it has been rewritten in other states, but not North Carolina.

And most were left embittered or poorer by their encounters with Buncombe County real estate investor Robert Perry Tucker II, who acquired their houses and lands at far below market rates, a year-long Asheville Watchdog investigation found.

In a review of more than four dozen of Tucker’s real estate transactions since 2014, Asheville Watchdog found his companies have acquired interests in Buncombe properties for as little as $250 — or nothing at all. Many of the sales appear to have generated profits for Tucker while erasing years if not generations of home equity for property owners, nearly half of them Black.

Tucker, an attorney,

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Come Hell or High Water, Asheville Is Climate “Winner”

Influx of “climate refugees” expected to exacerbate challenges

By 2100 coastal communities could experience sea-levels up to 8 feet higher than in 2000. Some scholars predict 13 million people could be displaced and likely to migrate to “safe cities.”

Back in 2006, when Scott Shuford was Asheville’s planning director, he reluctantly accepted a friend’s invitation to attend a meeting about the impact of climate change on local governments. 

“I didn’t see how a two-degree temperature change could affect the community,” he recalled, referring to the predicted rise in earth temperatures in years to come. “But I agreed to attend, thinking it would only be about 15 minutes. 

“After about an hour-and-a-half I came out of the meeting drenched in sweat.”

All the plans he had drafted up to that day suddenly seemed to have overlooked an unsettled future fraught with unanticipated challenges. Those two degrees of temperature change meant greater threats of weather extremes — of torrential rains, devastating floods, and landslides, and of their opposites, extended drought and wildfire. 

“We weren’t ready,” Shuford said of Asheville’s infrastructure at the time.

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Black Home Ownership and the Promise of Reparations

For many, Asheville's "urban renewal" ended the American Dream

Priscilla Ndiaye Robinson surveys her childhood Southside neighborhood near New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Urban renewal "destroyed" a thriving community, she said.

Priscilla Ndiaye Robinson looked across the empty fields where her Southside neighborhood once thrived. “It’s all gone,” she said. “One thousand two hundred businesses and homes were lost.” 

The neighborhood, where approximately half of Asheville’s Black population lived, suffered major upheaval under Asheville’s urban renewal program in the 1970s and 1980s, one of the largest urban renewal projects in the Southeastern United States. 

Ndiaye Robinson’s memories of childhood delights — a neighbor’s cupcakes, playing with chickens, charging up the grassy hills — are tainted by sadness and umbrage at what happened. “It broke up a loving community. It tore up families,” she recalled.

Priscilla Ndiaye Robinson

For Asheville’s Black residents it, urban renewal also undercut the foundation of generational wealth and dashed a revered piece of the American Dream. Predominantly Black neighborhoods were razed to make way for proposed highways or real estate ventures,

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