Expanding Affordable Housing and Pre-K in Buncombe County

Buncombe County -- Buncombe County Community News May 5, 2022: Federal funding will continue to make a local impact as the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved $4.8 million for three projects aimed at increasing affordable housing and Pre-K availability.

During their May 3 meeting, Commissioners unanimously approved dedicating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars for projects spearheaded by Asheville Housing Authority, Buncombe Partnership for Children, and Mountain Housing Opportunities.

The projects align with the recent community survey results that especially stress a need for access to affordable housing. Chairman Brownie Newman touted the affordable housing initiatives noting, “Part of the reason they are compelling is they leverage significant additional resources to support affordable housing in the community… and take us about 10% of the way toward our affordable rental goal for 2030.” Those two projects will run the gamut in sizes from efficiency studios to larger family homes. Meantime, Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara noted the Pre-K expansion is a two-year pilot program she exclaimed will “have a game-changing impact” and be a “bold step toward serving more children.”

The projects awarded ARPA money are as follow:

$935,286 for the Asheville Housing Authority’s Reimagining Deaverview. According to the application: “Reimagining Deaverview is the second Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) redevelopment initiative proposed by Asheville Housing Authority with our co-developer, Mountain Housing Opportunities. The first successful project was Maple Crest Apartments at Lee Walker Heights, now completed and fully leased. Phase 1 of Reimagining Deaverview has been planned in close consultation with current residents and will not require demolition of any of the current 160 residential units. Three new buildings, including 80 to 82 apartments and ample community space, will be built where the current Deaverview office stands and on another vacant corner of the property. This means the first group of Deaverview families will only have to relocate once, directly into their new apartments.”
 
$3.2 million for Buncombe Partnership for Children’s Pre-K expansion plan. According to the application: “To expand NC Pre-K in Buncombe County, we must start where our Early Childhood Education (ECE) community is right now, two years into a pandemic. Buncombe Partnership for Children (BPFC) developed each strategy in this proposal together with ECE providers and families of young children. Focus groups and co-development workgroups took place through the fall of 2021, ensuring this approach addresses the barriers our providers face in offering NC Pre-K and the barriers our families face in accessing it (all exacerbated by COVID-19). BPFC will start by increasing stability and equity among existing NC Pre-K providers, expanding our pool of high-quality providers and licensed teachers, and making it easier for eligible families to learn about and take advantage of NC Pre-K’s proven benefits. Implemented together, these strategies (re)build ECE capacity to implement NC Pre-K and enhance it so that more providers will be able and eager to offer it across our ECE settings.”
 
$718,616 for Mountain Housing Opportunity’s affordable rental assistance project. According to the application: “MHO is asking for a total of $3,000,000 for a two-pronged approach to the affordable housing crisis in Buncombe County. We are asking for $2,000,000 to support a new affordable rental development at 9999 Heywood Road in Arden (Lakeshore Villas), which will provide 120 affordable rental units.”
With the approval of these projects, Buncombe County has allocated nearly $28 million of the more than $50 million ARPA dollars it was allocated last year. To date, 30 projects have been awarded ARPA funding, and you can learn more about those here

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