Vote YES on Buncombe County’s Housing Bond
Buncombe County voters approved the housing bond on November 8, 2022.
Why Vote YES?
Every resident of Buncombe County should vote YES on the housing bond, whether they own or rent their home, and whether or not they struggle with housing costs.
Relief for Renters
If you’re a renter, this bond is a no-brainer.
Throughout much of the county, vacancy rates are at or near all-time lows. That goes for rental homes, and owner-occupied homes too.
This is a housing shortage, and it’s a basic law of economics that shortages drive up prices. When families can’t find a home to buy, then they look to rent. That means more people, fighting over the same apartments. And when there are more people desperate for homes, landlords take that as a signal that they can raise their rents.
The only way out of a housing shortage is building more homes. And the county’s initiative specifically seeks to get more homes built that are affordable for low- and middle-income workers and their families by subsidizing their construction costs.
Helping Friends and Family
It doesn’t matter what your income or level of wealth is. We all know friends, family members, and co-workers affected by this shortage. Workers can no longer afford living near their existing social and professional networks. And children are leaving their parents’ homes only to find that there are no options for places to live in the area.
The median property owner will pay about thirty bucks each year to the county, if BOTH bond measures pass in November. (The second bond measure is for land conservation.) We believe that this is a very small price to pay to keep our friends and family from being pushed away due to housing scarcity.
In fact, it’s that very scarcity that has benefited existing property owners; scarcity is why home values have gone up. It’s not asking too much for homeowners to give just a little bit of that value back.
And as new homes are built, and the tax base grows, the bonds are expected to become even less costly per resident.
More Bang For Our Buck
Raising this money will allow the county to tap into funds from the federal government. It will also allow the county to apply for various kinds of grants that will complement the money raised by the bond. The county expects to gain as much as two dollars for every dollar raised locally.
These “matching” sources of money are accessible to the county on the condition that they have multiple streams of funding. In short, if we don’t pass the housing bond, we are leaving money on the table.
Even if you’re comfortably and securely housed for now, the regional shortage in homes and apartments may hit you unexpectedly. What if you need to move across the county because you get a new job? What if your family grows in size and you need a bigger home? Or what if you would like to downsize your home as you grow older?
A housing shortage is inevitably a crisis in affordability, but it’s also a crisis of mobility. It means fewer options for ALL—not just renters, and not just low- and middle- income residents.
Economic Homogeneity Hurts Everyone
We all lose out when working people can’t afford to live nearby.
ALL kinds of people are struggling with finding housing and paying for it. That includes the people that serve us drinks and food, the people that create local art and music, the people that work in the stores that we frequent, and those that drive for the “ride-share” apps that we use.
It includes the people that make Buncombe County unique. Those that oppose new home construction like to talk about preserving a community’s “character.” But the truth is that characters make up a neighborhood’s character. And the people that made Asheville and surrounding areas “weird” can’t afford to live here anymore.
And it also includes teachers. And even healthcare professionals too. We need all of these people to be able to afford homes in Buncombe County for themselves and their families.
According to some economists, rising housing costs are less an outcome of inflation, as they are a driver of it.
Buncombe County isn’t going to solve the inflation problem—one that is affecting the entire world right now. But we can do our part here to stabilize runaway prices by fixing our local supply shortfall of reasonably priced homes.
Will the Buncombe County Bond Fix Our Housing Crisis?
To be clear, the bond will not solve all of our housing woes.
Subsidizing the construction of income-restricted housing is just one tool in a toolbox that needs to be stocked with a number of strategies.
For example, you can read our recent statement about the need for the towns and cities in Buncombe County to revisit their zoning codes.
Asheville For All is under no illusions that there is any one quick fix to the housing crisis. That’s why we’re committed for the long haul. Be sure to follow us so you can stay up-to-date on ALL of the ways that we can work to bring about housing abundance.
Nevertheless, the housing bond is worth its price tag, and is necessary if we’re going to get serious about confronting our region’s housing scarcity.
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Click “Next” to find out how you can help to get the housing bond passed in November.