We all know that Asheville has become increasingly unaffordable for local people. Our mountain town is widely celebrated as a beautiful place to visit, but now we’re gaining a reputation as a very difficult place to live, much less thrive. Even highly educated and qualified members of our workforce are feeling the pinch. Based on recent studies by Stanford University, as referenced in National Public Radio’s Planet Money, Asheville ranks the fifth worst for standard of living for college graduates in the U.S. — and ranks the absolute worst for those of us with only a high school diploma. And the State of Black Asheville report makes clear that these disparities fall hardest on the most historically disenfranchised members of our community. These circumstances must change, that’s why I have made affordability for working people the center-piece of my campaign.
While our population continues to grow, housing costs and property taxes have skyrocketed as wages remain flat for most of us. All this has combined to put immense pressure on the working people of our city. It’s a prime reason we currently don’t have enough teachers, firefighters, and health care workers. This situation affects everyone, regardless of financial security. Asheville should be a place where you can live, work, go to school, and see a show all within a short trip by car, bike, sidewalk, or bus. Building permanent and deeply affordable housing, near jobs, schools, and cultural centers while ensuring workers employed by the city are paid fairly are some of the immediate things the City can and should do to increase affordability. I would make them a priority on Day One.
We are experiencing a massive deficit of available housing, largely due to the crush of tourism, as short-term rentals and vacation homes eat into places to live. As a result we are pushing our workforce farther and farther into the county, creating traffic, pollution, and Charlotte-style sprawl. We need leaders who bring solutions to the table that match the size of the problem, and who will center quality of life for residents and workers ahead of the needs of tourists and the profit motives of hoteliers and out-of-town developers. For all these reasons, I am running to be the voice of the workers of Asheville on City Council.