Civic

Shaping Dialogue, Making Headlines

Asheville – On April 16, the City of Asheville, in a press release, announced, “Today was the end of the seven-day notice for those who were illegally camping at Aston Park. City staff along with Homeward Bound has been continuously working with these camp individuals to provide support and shelter options since safety concerns were identified at the camp.

“It is important to note there were two distinct groups of people who had tents erected on city property.

“The first group consisted of people experiencing homelessness. At the end of the day today, there were six people still on-site who did not have a place to shelter. All six people were offered shelter at the Red Roof Inn and all six accepted. A similar plan for providing low barrier shelter is being finalized for people in other camps who have been given notice to dismantle camps on city property.

“A second group of tents was erected yesterday by protesters. After the people who needed shelter were taken to the Red Roof Inn, protesters remained on-site. Protesters obstructed city staff attempts to remove the newly-erected tents. It was explained to these individuals that they would be arrested if they continued to obstruct city staff’s cleanup of the site. At this time three protesters have been arrested.”

If history repeats – since many activists demanding that the city allow encampments were also high-profile protesters in the Defund the Police Movement – one can expect recycling of the game plan: (1) select a cause célèbre, (2) exercise civil disobedience in protest, (3) disobey police orders to disperse or some other law or ordinance, and (4) publicize the police encounter omitting the instigation(s). It’s an easy way to get the masses riled. 

It is no surprise that those calling in to Asheville City Council’s Zoom meetings these days are leftist activists known for getting behind pushes to dismantle American institutions, which they will be quick to erroneously label “racist.” That’s another technique that works; demagoguery ends intellectual discourse. Causes include zeroing out the national carbon footprint; anarchy; gender denial; defunding the police; paying reparations; socialism/communism; legalizing weed and other drugs; and nationalizing health insurance, college tuition, housing, and sustenance. Alarming to traditionalists is the foreshadowing of dictatorship common to these ideals. They are attacks on independent rationality, and many require killing the goose to get the golden egg.

Perhaps taking the words of the city council and staff out of context, dealing with this group is a challenge. They don’t respect the law, the social contract, or even property rights. They hide behind the word “democracy” while all the while demanding, “It’s my way or the highway.” They have several media outlets wrapped around their little fingers, running to catch their tears as they go around tripping legal triggers and crying abuse by the system. In so doing, they generate distrust for the establishments charged with making sure well-intending individuals can go about their business without random sabotage. They’re organized, funded, and deceitful.

In the words of Bon Jovi, they give love a bad name. It’s hard enough for people to share when they’re not sure they have enough for their families. A common squeamish about withholding resources is concern they will be squandered on drugs or alcohol that will worsen the state of a vagrant; now charitable souls can wonder if by giving they’re not helping the poor but funding a subversive movement to undermine the land and people they cherish.

Back to the first group of homeless persons, it looks like the city already has a good system of getting people who want to work, be self-supporting, honor the social contract, and give back to their community back on the ladder to success. Swift intervention is imperative, as the longer a person is homeless, the more they are exposed to elements and abuse, the more they are likely to become emotionally and chemically habituated to their “losing” circumstances. As health deteriorates, options for employment will attenuate, provided they can even supply contact information on a job application and travel to the interview. Forget dressing for success.

The next wave of federal COVID relief funding is expected to go a long way toward helping this group, but Councilwoman Gwen Wisler has repeatedly stated the estimated $26 million the city expects is already spoken for. Councilwoman Kim Roney, therefore, pled with those who could hear her voice to give in any way they could. The city’s demonstration that it is wise to the difference between those who use resources to grow and those who use them for destruction, can help donors feel like they are being part of the solution.

The city is following best practices for temporary housing for COVID survivors, but once these people are on their feet, they likely will not be able to afford that $340,000 average Asheville home or that $1,275/month average Asheville apartment. If the city wants to help, it should look at its zoning ordinances. Do we not want people sleeping in the bushes, or not want to keep them working two jobs on subsidized housing, enough to try letting people rent out rooms for any amount of time in single-family residential zones? Can the city find room for cohousing, tidy mobile home parks, charming bungalow communities, and/or citywide live-work situations? Or will it persist in corridor studies to micromanage design standards and thus raise the cost of every residential and commercial structure in the city?

Editor’s note: The Tribune welcomes any comments with opposing or similar viewpoints to opinion articles printed. You can send responses to editor@tribpapers.com.

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