If anyone has had a front-row seat to the evolution — or devolution — of Asheville’s homelessness problem over the past few decades, it’s Beth Stickle.

“I’ve been downtown for 45 years and I’ve had my shop for 37 years, and I’ve never seen what I’m seeing now,” Stickle said. “And it’s not just homelessness. It’s a mental health issue, it’s a drug issue. It’s multifaceted, and it’s going to need to be approached in many different ways.”

Stickle owns Bloomin’ Art, a gift shop on Haywood Street. She told me the kind of homeless people she encounters now is vastly different from those of previous years and decades.

I’ll note that I’ve known Stickle for a couple of decades now, and she’s not a skittish or alarmist person. She has interacted with homeless people for years, usually in a productive way, but now she admits to feeling unsafe downtown.

Beth Stickle // Watchdog photo by Starr Sariego

“This has taken 37 years to get to this point,” Stickle said. “Nobody owned it — (It went) from five alcoholics we all knew by name, to this. And this is not going to be something that’s going to be solved overnight. It’s just not. It’s heartbreaking to me.”

Joint City-County Meeting

It’s safe to say Stickle, and probably every other business owner downtown, as well as residents and pretty much anybody who comes to the city center, has more than a passing interest in an upcoming homelessness meeting. On Jan. 25, the city of Asheville and Buncombe County will hold a joint meeting to hear the results of a needs assessment report, which will include recommendations to improve the community’s response to homelessness.

The meeting will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center. Last year the city, Buncombe, and Dogwood Health Trust collaborated to respond to the increased need surrounding homelessness.

Dogwood funded a consultant “to bring national expertise to the local community to better understand and address the crisis of unsheltered homelessness.” 

As the city notes, “Homelessness has increased steadily throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular increase in the number of people who are unsheltered.”

The city’s “point-in-time” count in 2022 found Asheville had 637 homeless people, including 232 who were unsheltered and 405 who had shelter of some kind. [The 2023 survey will be conducted the afternoon and evening of Jan. 31.]

This is not the first time nor probably the last a consultant has come in to address the city’s struggles with homelessness. And I’ve chided the city for relying on consultants too many times and not getting anything done.

Stickle said she hopes the city and county really step up this time to get a handle on a runaway homelessness problem. She also hopes recommendations include requirements that homeless people use mental health or substance abuse programs — that they become vested in themselves and the community.

“It’s so complicated and we’ve let it get so far out of hand, because in the beginning we thought if we helped just a little bit, everything would work out” Stickle said. “And that’s not what has happened.”

Police Presence Lacking

Some mornings when she goes to open her shop, Stickle said, homeless people sleeping in the entrance won’t move. When she tells them, nicely, that she’s got to open up and asks them to move, she’s greeted with curse words.

Like most business owners downtown, Stickle has a sign in her shop that says camping is not allowed in the doorway, and she’s registered with the Asheville Police to enforce. Except, Stickle said, the police presence downtown has dwindled, and homeless people know that and ignore the signs.

“I know this is something that’s happening everywhere, as far as (police) being understaffed, but today was the first time I’ve seen an officer on Haywood Street since before the holidays,” Stickle said Jan. 18. “We never see them anymore.”

Haywood Street sees a lot of homeless people, as the library, with public restrooms, is on one end, and Pritchard Park, a popular hangout, is on the other.

Last May, her delivery vehicle, a 1988 Dodge van that she parks in the Civic Center garage, was broken into and totaled. It took the police two and a half hours to show up to take a report.

Stickle said the officer apologized and she was sympathetic, but it’s indicative of that multi-layered problem she referenced. So is the lack of security in the parking garage, by the way.

In November, all four tires on the van were slashed. Stickle said the van had little of value inside, so the break-ins and vandalism are particularly senseless.

On the Sunday morning after the tire slashing, Stickle arrived at the garage with a tire pump and air compressor, hoping to salvage the tires. 

“When I got there at 11 in the morning, a guy and girl were sitting in front of my van on the sidewalk in the garage shooting up,” Stickle said. “For the first time in 45 years, I don’t feel … I know I’m getting older, but it’s not that. I’ve known all these folks on the street. I’ve been able to help them, I’ve been able to manage them at times, but I don’t feel safe any more.”

Here’s a sign of the times for downtown business owners: For Christmas, one of Stickle’s friends gave her a Taser.

Before you write Stickle off as someone who’s out of touch or overly sensitive, you should know she is a person who deeply loves Asheville, was a pioneering business woman in its modern revival and considers herself progressive politically. 

“It breaks my heart,” Stickle said. “Forty-five years ago when I invested into having a business and seeing Asheville come along, I never thought that the pendulum would swing back. We may have a lot of high-end property and tax value, but it’s less safe now than it was 45 years ago, and that’s just not the way it should be.”

She emphasized that Asheville has a strong community of professionals who can help with mental health and substance abuse problems, and she hopes the city and county tap into that.

‘We Should Not Normalize This!’

Trust me, I hear from a lot of folks who feel the same about downtown — that the homeless people are more aggressive, seem to be on heavy-duty drugs, and that their numbers, and encampments, just keep growing. I recently got a message from a long-time friend who’s been in Asheville for over two decades.

She asked not to use her name.

“It seems like our county/city government cares more about the transients than the tax-paying citizens and the beauty Asheville once held,” she wrote to me in December.  “In the past two weeks I’ve seen new tents go up along the Mountains to Sea trail as well as areas in Bent Creek just outside the Arboretum where camping is not allowed. The RAD greenway is home to so many homeless that this is all becoming very unsafe. These aren’t the same homeless as we all used to help provide for. These are drug addicts, as is evident by the needles they leave behind.”

She talked about all the cars, homes, and businesses getting broken into “because even the homeless know the cops won’t come.”

“We should not normalize this! If Asheville wants to be known as a free place to come, do your drugs, rob us, then the county/city need to step up and let us know,” she continued.

An avid runner, she related how she recently went for a run on a street near a park she frequents. 

“And two homeless guys came out of the woods and were snooping around my car,” she wrote. “I happened to loop back to put my jacket in, as it was too warm, and I saw them peeking into my windows.”

She yelled at them and aimed her pepper spray at them. They left, but it was still disconcerting.

“Back in the day the homeless used to watch over my car, and I gave them sandwiches,” she said. “This new post-COVID group just wants to steal.”

“You Can’t Do That Here”

I don’t pretend to know all the answers. As Stickle emphasized, this is a multi-layered, complex problem, and we’ve all let it get out of hand.

We don’t have enough truly affordable housing or mental health services or job training – or police. And that’s despite an enormous amount of effort and hundreds and hundreds of very caring people around here.

But I’ll say this, too: We’ve got to demand more of homeless people, too. They have to invest in themselves, in our area.

Stickle said it’s only a matter of time before the word gets out among tourists that Asheville is unsafe, if it hasn’t already. She said she hates that for Asheville, which languished for decades before its revitalization in the early 2000s.

But she also offered some good, tough-love advice.

“The services need to figure out a way to work together,” Stickle said. “But we’ve got to have to have the political will to say, ‘You can’t do that here.’ ”

I wonder if that recommendation will be in the consultant’s report.

Asheville Watchdog is a nonprofit news team producing stories that matter to Asheville and Buncombe County. John Boyle has been covering Asheville and surrounding communities since the 20th century. You can reach him at (828) 337-0941, or via email at jboyle@avlwatchdog.org

48 replies on “Opinion: Homelessness in Asheville Is Out of Hand, and ‘Heartbreaking’”

  1. Please America– Pass “Health Care for All”. This would be a start in helping our homeless situation- and help them. It’s time we join the countries who take care of mental health. I do not think we solve the homeless by building new places to stay – as we are almsot forced to do- .. We must help many of the folks on the street to help themselves- and we can’t even get started without Mental Health Care– as part of Health Care for All… Nationally- with the new congress- we are on the wrong track. I’m willing to pay more for my health care to have it cover everyone. and in the longer run- this will bring our costs down. We are “right now”– on the wrong track to helping the homeless– to helping all of us— and getting out of this homeless predicament; we can’t solve this situation without mental health care for everyone.

    1. I agree we need more health care, especially mental health care for homeless people. But the real question is whether they will USE that health care. Addiction is at the root of many problems faced by homeless people and addiction is very stubborn. As a society we tend to put a bandaid on this issue and call it good. A 30-day “rehab” stint does nothing to effectively treat addiction. It hardly touches on the physical aspects, let alone the emotional, mental or spiritual aspects of addiction. Once those are treated, there’s the issue of teaching newly clean and sober people how to “adult” – how to become self-motivated, to structure a life that has been shredded by chaos, how to gain skills and education that were bypassed, how to apply for and obtain a job and how to show up to work every day. These are not easy matters to address. It’s like trying to grasp an octopus – all the slippery tentacles try to go their own way. True rehabilitation is an arduous task and so far, society has planted its head in the sand and pretended that it will go away by itself or with half-hearted efforts. Given the rise in overdose deaths in the past 10 years, there is clearly a huge rise in addiction levels as well. We need an integrated approach that tackles the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of this problem or it will continue to grow and to overwhelm us.

    2. Absolutely! It was so disheartening to read that one of our new congressman Edward’s priorities was to dismantle “Obamacare.” His constituents do not agree.

  2. This is what decades of elected democrat non leaders produce for Asheville. And, now, the national democratic agenda to destroy cities nationwide. Why ?

    1. “ In all, eight of the 10 states with the highest per-capita murder rates in the country voted for Trump in 2020. None of those eight states have been carried by a Democrat since 1996. Mississippi had by far the highest murder rate at 20.5 murders per 100,000 residents, followed by Louisiana at 15.79. Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri all had murder rates higher than 14 per 100,000 compared to a national average of 6.5. The only states that voted for Biden to appear in the top 10 are Georgia — a longtime Republican stronghold that went blue by a tiny margin in 2020 — and New Mexico.”

      1. Interesting statistics. Can they be broken down by city versus non-city murders? Or murder rate by state if citywide murder rates are eliminated? Can it still be insinuated that the probably more rural Trump-folks are doing all the killings? I didn’t have a dog in the 2020 hunt, but would still like to know the truth.

      2. i would like to see a breakdown of large city murder rates run by dems versus republicans. the states sighted by you have cities run by dems whose murder rates skew the states averages.

      3. After reading your comment, I read the article again to see if I missed something about murder and Trump. I didn’t. Asheville is getting what it voted for and would probably be in a better place if it were more pragmatic like Trump, his crudeness aside.

  3. We have had several out of town guest to visit the downtown Asheville area and are alarmed and frightened by the vast numbers of homeless persons allowed to sleep and linger in the business fronts and park areas ! They felt unsafe and tho May visit again to our beautiful area , but no interest in going Down town due to this very situation ! Sadly , This will have an adverse effect on downtown businesses ! It has been tolerated for far too many years and will not be an easy fix , but one that is a must for the future of our downtown business health !

  4. I moved here with my family from San Diego in 2007 and loved visiting downtown Asheville. Over the years I have seen a disregard and lack of respect for property by the homeless and an increase of violence by those who are doing drugs in plane view.
    I believe this is brought on by our city council not making proper decisions to support local businesses and to curb the homeless population.

    1. Curb the homeless population? You and any of the smart ones should run for office provided there’s a solution to be shared with us liberal sheep.

  5. I’m from Asheville. The homeless situation has definitely changed dramatically. I never used to feel afraid of the homeless people in town, but these days it is way more common for someone to harass you, follow you, and threaten you.

    I have a young son. Recently, I took him out to eat downtown – we sat outdoors at the Laughing Seed. A guy, seemingly unstable or on a major drug bender, came and stood near our table. He performed all kind of antics, jumping in front of cars and harassing various workers and tourists on Wall Street. At some point, he pulled down his pants and started playing with his penis. There isn’t a police presence to do anything about it, so you just have to try and avoid it as best as you can.

  6. Although it was in the 90s it now seems a distant memory when there were a couple of mounted policemen downtown and there were other officers zipping around on Segways keeping an eye on things. It was kind of “neat” and the place felt safe, back in the days of the early Brewgrass festivals in Pack Square. What fun! Why can’t some of the tons of federal monies now being spread around now be spread out here for some added policemen? I’ve noticed that some stores probably out of necessity have hired their own security services. That’s never a good sign. Rather than hire more consultants [an Asheville pastime] why not talk to city governments who don’t have as much of a problem and learn from them – heavens forbid they’re cities governed by Republicans.

  7. I will never go into downtown Asheville for ANYTHING now. I go to Canton, Waynesville, Weaverville, and sometimes Hendersonville.
    If I do end up downtown I am carrying. I hate having to go to the courthouse or government offices because I can’t carry my protection inside.

  8. From the late 90’s to 2019, I visited my family here four times a year and loved going downtown. I finally moved back two years ago and now I don’t go. It doesn’t feel safe, it’s dirty, and it smells. The City doesn’t need anymore out of town consultants to hide behind. We can’t build our way out of this crisis.

  9. I read that Hendersonville is very nice and now with all the big, new money pouring in, Asheville should consider reverse bussing.

  10. NC is receiving 750 million from the Opiate settlements. I would venture a guess that many ended up homeless as a result of opiate addiction. How much of that money will be spent on actual solutions to the homeless crisis? The first step should be to provide actual housing. All the support services in the world will not work if people are still living without basic shelter.

    1. Asheville already on Tucker Carlson’s show as having a huge increase in crime. Is there any way to have an accounting of the opiate 750 million to see if any is allocated to Asheville to REALLY solve this homeless crisis?

    2. I think you hit the nail on the head with the question: How much of this money is going to the homelessness solution? It raises possibly the most important question in this debate and that would be: Are the City/County governments able to access funding under the banner of homelessness; if so how much and from whom and who are the ultimate recipients of this funding?
      I suspect you will find out big bucks can be garnered under this banner from state and federal government sources. That once accessed, the decision is made by govt. officials to distribute some of this money to directly aid the homeless and to, through media, promote this narrative. However, the balance, probably the majority, of the funds are directed, by govt. officials, into the hands of those who have the experience and expertise to handle this problem……..local nonprofits and charities of various descriptions.
      This creates a very close relationship, a financial relationship, between govt officials and these agencies. Reasonable to believe these agencies become a part of the political machine providing their agency’s income stream. And it is a cozy, private, nontransparent, and protected relationship.
      So, if the problem presents a solution which can be to the financial and political benefit of the parties charged with solving the problem; do you think the problem is ever going away? If you look at the problem in the large metropolitan areas you will see that it is getting bigger not smaller.

  11. What gets rewarded gets repeated. It is a tough issue as most people want to help. I’m just not sure how to do it effectively. It is has been my observation that as more services and supports are put in place the homeless population expands.

    I think that homeless consultants are mostly a waste of time, money and effort. I do not think that consultants really know what to do anymore than anyone else. If they did, they should be able to point to multiple long term community level success stories. Not just short term successes and feel good anecdotes.

  12. It cost how much to remove the Vance Monument? These funds could have been allocated to helping to alleviate this crisis in fast motion downtown. Unfortunately it wouldn’t be enough but a better usage to positively impact peoples lives right here and now. I guess my taxes will go towards “reparations” too.

  13. Why is there no mention of the supportive services that have been slashed—funding for essential services that’s just *not there* anymore? This is a years long trend and now that we are seeing the inevitable results people are surprised? Also the end to the eviction moratorium and the runaway greed of landlords here? Where do folks think people are going to go?? Homeless people don’t spontaneously create themselves—it is a problem caused and exacerbated by public policy and those in positions of power are accountable. Stop expecting people to bootstrap in a broken society.

    1. I hope the whole smelly city goes down the tubes. It’s exactly what should happen to a city that is crap managed.

  14. I just moved to Asheville from L.A., where the unhoused situation is completely out of control. I used to work as a therapist in rehabs in Southern California and there was a type of client that would come in off the street long enough to get sober — or because they were court-mandated and had to go to rehab or they were being exploited in an insurance body-brokering scam — and then go back out, and then rinse, repeat, etc. We (the clinical staff) all knew this type of client. They did not want to follow any rules, had no interest in staying sober, and, I came to believe, would not have been interested in any “tiny homes” the government might provide. They were existential anarchists and preferred life in a tent city to having structure imposed upon them. I think these are the folks the business owners in downtown Asheville are concerned about, and they should be. I’ve been coming to Asheville for years and I don’t like going downtown now. I don’t know what the answer is, but permissiveness isn’t it.

    1. Well said, these people deemed “homeless” are by and large druggies who desire no structure as that would require some commitment. I can promise you the more you give the worse the problem will become. At the very least enforce littering and trespassing laws. If. Trashville doesn’t get a handle on this it shall surely die.

  15. Asheville is a mecca for the homeless because of all the agencies handing out freebies in this town. Beloved has a food truck delivering free meals, pantries filled with food and toiletries for the homeless to take (and often sell it to is on the street corners) all over Asheville and they hand out endless supplies of tents and camping supplies for the city to throw away. Beloved and the other agencies attract the homeless here like flies. When the citizens quit funding these groups and the freebies in Asheville stop, the problem will move to the next town. Amy Cantrell and her group is the worst thing to ever happen to Asheville.

      1. It would be nice for an investigative journalist to look at the link between homelessness in Asheville and Amy Cantrell’s arrival in Asheville around 2009. As Beloved has grown so has Asheville’s homeless epidemic.

  16. we can debate the reasons for this crisis till we are blue in the face. the reality is, if no solutions are found,Asheville will suffer greatly from the loss of tourism dollars. enough locals avoid downtown as it is. if Asheville becomes known for crime, not being safe or clean, then tourists wil stop coming and this city will look like it did in the 80’s. it will be dramatic and the changes will happen quickly. sure, i guess the homeless will move on if their is no one to give them money, but the city will look like rows of abandoned buildings. what a shame it was allowed too get this bad.

  17. The homeless crisis in Asheville will continue as long as the homeless, addicted, and mentally ill know that they have a place to go where their actions have no consequences. That would be here!

  18. I travel a bit, and over the past 10 years I’ve noticed this becoming a national problem. It’s concentrated in all of the cities I visit now, but it’s even happening in small towns like the one I live in now. This is more of a socioeconomic problem than anything. The wealth gap has grown so much in the past couple of decades that I think a lot of people born in to poverty just don’t have any hope anymore. They are already mentally fragile due to the environment that they grew up in and probably turn to a life of drugs because it’s an escape from the bleak reality that even if they work their hardest they will have a glimmer of a chance of not ever being overburdened by the amount of debt that the American dream calls for today. So they just opt put of the system that has never really been their for them to begin with. Poverty, greed, and the wage gap was bad when I was young. I’d say it’s gotten a lot worse as I have grown older.

    1. Jason, thank you for what I believe is “hitting the nail on the head.” So so many socioeconomic factors come into play here, and nationwide, that the problems of homelessness and addiction are not easily addressed. The American dream is increasingly hard to realize. Even those who grew up “middle class” are finding it hard to remain so. There has been a breakdown of social norms once nurtured in neighborhoods that are now replaced by social media. People feel isolated from the lack of supportive communities and turn to increasingly mind and body destroying drugs. How to counter this? One thing for sure is that it’s not down to political parties. It’s increasingly hard to know WWJD?

  19. We ALL, no matter our housing status, must abide by the community-set standards of safety, decency, and consideration. Asheville, like all cities, has laws against antisocial behaviors including, but not limited to, public urination, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, destruction of property, vandalism, trespassing, drug use, indecency, theft, and littering. Civic pride (and Asheville’s healthy future) requires the active enforcement of our regulations and decisive prosecution against offenders.

    1. Yes, the AVL police force needs to be reinvigorated. I identify as center-left on the political spectrum, and did NOT support defunding the police. Just the opposite. If anything I thought we should have invested more in the police, to straighten out the problems, because they are a necessity in city management. We must stop what is happening to Asheville. Every morning I watch footage from my home security cam in West Asheville as thieves jiggle the handles of our vehicles hoping to find something to loot, and I read our neighborhood emails about how this car or that bike, or this package was stolen the previous night. Every week there is something. Every week. How long ’til they stop jiggling the handles and start punching in the windows? That’s already happening downtown. Last night The Marketplace restaurant was the latest casualty of break-in, vandalism and theft and apparently 20 other downtown businesses were hit in the past 2 weeks. Where is this going? I no longer feel comfortable walking alone in parks or down the streets after a couple run-ins with drug addicts and other homeless. I’ve changed my driving route to my house after a homeless man beat on my car and screamed obscenities at the 240 exit onto Haywood Avenue. We don’t need consultants to tell us that we need to enforce our statutes and laws that are already in place. We need a de-militarized but full-size police force that has routine mental health support, routine public feedback and accountability, and we need a District Attorney and other City and County staff willing to hold law-breaking perpetrators accountable, and not just a turnstile of short detentions and release. The word is out that Asheville is a free-for-all with no consequences. We must return to a visible police presence, and rethink how we assist those in need. As others have said here, enabling transient people who are not invested in this community or themselves is not the way. Paradoxically it makes the problem worse. It makes me think of an allegorical scene in the TV show Lost. Charlie was a young heroin addict on an uncharted Pacific island with a group of other plane crash survivors. Charlie made it through drug withdrawal but was then tempted when they found a stash of heroin. A mentor, John Locke, tried to help Charlie. He showed Charlie a large cocoon that contained a wriggling butterfly inside. John explained to Charlie that if he helped the butterfly to get out of its cocoon by slicing the cocoon just a bit with his knife, that the butterfly would ultimately not survive because the process of struggling to get out of the cocoon is needed to strengthen the butterfly’s wings so it can fly far enough to find food. Like Locke’s butterfly, it is possible that some of these people who have shipwrecked in Asheville are on a journey that they may need? Are we actually prolonging their period of suffering when we enable their behaviors through handouts and lack of accountability?

  20. Asheville has always had a homeless problem. Asheville Citizen Times (ACT) Feb 6, 2000 documents the complains of local business’ owners with homeless people comigrating downtown. The is followed by a ACT two day expose on who the homeless are (Feb 27-28, 2000). These there is the March 3, 2000 Editorial on how we needs to have compassion and solve this problem together. The point in time homeless count for that year was 487. The point in time homeless counts from 2005 to 2021 were between 490 (2005) and 635 (2007). Last year it was 640, and people called it an explosion due to a housing crisis. If you have been talking about solving a problem for 23 years, and nothing has changed, maybe you are doing it wrong!

  21. We could all make downtown safer by treating each other with respect. A person without housing is a person first and foremost, and the disrespect runs both ways. New shopowners and tourists alike have gotten meaner and more violent toward people on the street, which makes it harder to trust new faces. Treat people who use drugs as real human beings first, and there won’t be a problem.
    Finally, the reason you see “new” encampments isn’t because there are new people coming to town, it’s because existing, peaceful camps are routinely evicted during the winter months right before snowstorms, in an effort to freeze people to death. If downtown isn’t safe to camp in, then more people will head to the woods and trails. Just allow people to camp in peace- and there will be more consistent access to support services, sanitary facilities, and less waste from city crews throwing away tons of perfectly good survival gear.
    As climate changes, there will only be more and more homelessness and survival camping. We need to be a city of people who treat each other with respect, in order to create a real community that can survive the coming climate and economic collapse.

    1. This is not about people without housing if it were it would be far simpler. This is about drug addicts, trespassers, litters, criminals, and that’s their better qualities.

  22. The problem is in a society that has turned away from the precepts of God. It’s turned into liars thieves murderers and permiscuousness. Combine those attributes with hard-core drugs and you get what your seeing across America. It’s not even close to being an asheville problem. It’s a national problem. I’ve traveled through many states and I’ve seen the exact same things taking place. The love of many are growing cold. Morals and values are at an all time low. Drug abuse at an all time high. As for Asheville ,I see where you let tourism set the atmosphere. Both with personality and with financial atmosphere. You have started an effect of the local people not being who you choose to take care of. You would rather appease tourists and appease wealth. Well in this economic atmosphere you can’t do that. Your causing a rift in reality. Your a small mountain town full of good folks. You need to focus on being a small town aimed at appeasing the small town you have. Instead of unrealistically dreaming yourself into a huge tourist attraction and appeasing a tourist dreamland. Come back to reality. Bring in some industry ,create some jobs that doesn’t require phds and bachelor degrees and create a nice livable small mountain town. Because that’s what you are. A very small Quant little mountain town with regular everyday folks. To whom cannot keep up with your fantasy touristville.

  23. At Disney the social environment is highly controlled, and for good reason. Their investment is too valuable to put up to chance.

    Like Disney much of our economy is tourist based. The chamber through the lodging tax advertising creates the steady stream of tourists supporting our economic health.

    We cannot sustain our lifestyle if it is unsafe (rightfully or perceived) to walk street day and night. It will take several months or years should we have a spate of major capital crimes on tourists in downtown.

    We need to bite the bullet and restore police presence in our community. ( Pedestrian too) If that means increasing taxes so be it.

  24. Homelessness is a problem just about everywhere. While the homeless here have become more visible, and clearly more aggressive, the failure of anyone to really come up with a solid plan for addressing it (or the core issues that are responsible) is glaringly obvious.

    The only way real solutions that actually work will happen is if we all come together and agree on and enact effective policies. When you have a multi-faceted problem, it requires a multi-pronged approach to solve.

  25. We came up for a business meeting and stayed for a weekend about six months ago. A deranged homeless guy started screaming at my wife at mid-day downtown, and groups of aggressive panhandling vagrants were everywhere.

    We used to live in Manhattan, and aren’t easily put off. But living near Greensboro we’ve got a range of choices. We won’t be coming back in the near future, tell anyone who asks to avoid the city, and stopped booking business retreats in the area.

  26. I grew up here and we always have stayed away from Asheville. It hurts to see my dad a police officer in our area get blamed for everything. Literally just a year ago he was treated like trash and people wanted the police to go away. Riots and protest to defund the police.. but Now people complain about wait times and no police presence please make your mind up. I’m shocked at how they are still blaming police for not being downtown. what would you prefer no cops or cops? Because you can’t have both. Also I have noticed the homeless people I have seen have nicer shoes than a person who works.. I have so much empathy for each individual, but the ones who suffer are the one’s trying to make Asheville a better place. They are Paying taxes and trying their hardest to survive, kids in our area are going without lunches for goodness sakes. The message we are sending is we will feed you, supply your clean needles, plus 3 or more hot meals a day delivered to you.. why would they change? I have a personal relationship with mental health issues and addiction due to close family members. 100% of the homeless people have Medicaid so how is it the doctors fault? Addicted people will get help when they want to. It doesn’t matter how much we give them or make excuses for them nothing will work until THEY truly want change. Yes they are all humans but we all have to hold people accountable for their actions and behavior. This poor lady is trying to make a living and she tormented by the very people she tries to help. If you feed stray animals they continue to come. Maybe if we stop giving them everything they will eventually understand that they have to work for what they want. Times are so hard for each of us right now why do they deserve to trash the city while our tax dollars foot the bill? As far as politics goes it’s a shame we no longer can coexist with each other and it’s heartbreaking. Maybe if we stop blaming each other and start holding people accountable things just might change.

    1. Well said. Im going to say it: The far left did this. And I say this having never, not once, voted for a Republican.
      Asheville is full of people who are pedantically altruistic, when what they really have is a white savior complex, pouncing into action as elegantly and thoughtfully as a bulldozer.
      Pretending to have all the answers without listening to the people on the frontlines, those with the actual lived experience to understand the issues, leads to bad solutions to misunderstood problems and a disastrous lasting impact.
      I remember working in Shiloh at a summer camp and all the teens laughing at Asheville’s Black Lives Matter protest that had 0 Black protesters, the organizers didn’t bother to involve the Black community.
      I know a director of a long-standing, prominent Asheville homeless program that has never been consulted about any of the programs Avl initiated. He’s overwhelmed now because he says the programs they pushed brings in outside homeless. They barely had enough resources to take care of the Asheville homeless, now it’s a battle every day, having to triage resources.
      Many homeless are veterans (well, the OG Asheville ones were), have they consulted the VA hospital about existing programs and how they can be communicated to the homeless? (My friend who works there knows: they have not, and he could tell them what you said, most deny these benefits and choose to be homeless because they dont want to get off the drugs).
      When police brutality came to the forefront, did they ask about APD-specific deescalation and anti-racism training? Because these existed at APD BEFORE George Floyd—and I know because I took the citizens police academy course in 2015, another community policing program that I doubt exists anymore.

      The mentality is action without thought, which I believe is counter to true progressivism.

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