The Asheville Coalition for Public Safety Speaks Out - TribPapers

The Asheville Coalition for Public Safety Speaks Out

AshevilleEditor’s Note: This was written by Bailey Stockwell.

Good afternoon, Council and Commissioners,

We hope the below will effectively convey some of our thoughts on the latest National Alliance to End Homelessness presentation. The recommendations are printed in bold, and our collective thoughts are highlighted afterwards in yellow.

We feel this appears to be an amplified version of what we have already been doing to try to solve the problem of homelessness, which seemingly has only increased the problem, at a huge financial cost to taxpayers.

While we understand this may be a push for funding sources, considering the 25 million that has already been invested and spent came from covid relief funds, we submit:

1. Your concern may be how to financially afford to expand, and continue to fund the projects started with those funds, if the funds stop coming in. Thus, the frantic push to accommodate grant requirements.

2. Our concern is that the city leadership will, with good intentions, perpetuate the homeless situation by funding a government program that becomes a revolving door funding prototype…one that requires homelessness to continue ad infinitum in order to forever secure paid positions in what becomes a homeless “industry”.

Somewhere between these two extremes lies the truth and, hopefully, a solution.

You all know this city -and the way it runs -better than any consultant ever will, and you can choose to not adopt some of these items that don’t apply or won’t work financially or realistically for our unique city.

Here are some thoughts on the proposed suggestions:

1. Improve system governance by creating and implementing a new CoC structure to guide community-wide planning to reduce and end homelessness. (Priority 1A) This includes hiring a dedicated staff position within the County to facilitate and lead cross-agency and intra-departmental work needed to execute on short-term priorities.

The Governance Board

We believe strongly that a true coalition of service groups, consolidation of support to as few nonprofits and service groups as possible, and cooperation amongst said groups, is clearly the best path forward. We support a group dedicated to intake and evaluation and referral, then subgroups of a mental health facility, a substance abuse rehabilitation facility, and job training programs when ready are all that are necessary. Each facility can hire and apply for funding through federal grants and contributions from the community via tax bonds and/or private donations from individuals and charitable trusts. This would also ensure employment for all currently engaged in the homelessness outreach community but in a much more organized fashion, as well as provide job opportunities as peer counselors for those who graduate from a program. Temporary emergency shelter to be available until referral to appropriate facility is completed.

2. Implement an encampment resolution policy and strategy that reduces negative impacts of enforcement on people experiencing homelessness and displacement and increases engagement to service utilization. (Priority 2D)

We must step away from the false sense of compassion that leads us to allowing our fellow human beings to exist in these conditions. A no encampment, no sanctuary camping position needs to be taken and enforced. This, we believe, is truly the only humane way to show our neighbors on the streets that our intent is a long-term solution to the conditions that led them to where they are. We do not believe that encouraging or enabling living on the streets and in encampments to suffer from the elements, the drug use, or the unaddressed mental illness is humane in any way, shape or form. They can be given a choice to either accept assistance or move on. And we must follow through with that offer of assistance! They will eventually hit the bottom that this situation necessitates and ask for help. It may not be here. It may be the next place. But remaining as is…not an option.

Sending outreach workers or community paramedics to these encampments without police is not a prudent or realistic move when considering public safety, and the safety of those workers themselves. Being put in a position of approaching these encampments without at least some standby on site seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

3. A hotline or website for community members to share locations for follow-up outreach or for self-referrals

211 needs to improve and have data readily accessible as to how many beds are available at any given time. There should be a public dashboard, representing active beds in REAL TIME based off the CES and HMIS data. This would allow the police, the public, and the homeless to have more access to live data regarding the availability of shelter and more. This should be a priority and service providers receiving funds should be required to be on board.

4. Increase crisis response capacity to meet 30% of the immediate problem solving/shelter needs of unsheltered homelessness. (Priority 3D)

Let’s not creatively math our way into or out of this discussion point. They have said we need approximately 596 beds. They want to us reduce this need by 50%, meaning roughly 298 beds need to be ‘created’. Between the two facilities already in line to be opened (Day’s Inn and Ramada revamp) we will have 200 of these already. So that leaves 396 needed, in reality, going FORWARD from this point. “Success” would be measured by adding an additional 198 beds to the 200 already on line that should not count towards the 50% reduction.

5. Begin the implementation of system improvements to the Coordinated Entry System (CES). Create a CES Policy Committee of the CoC to develop or revise. written standards, policies, and procedures for CES. (Priority 3E, Step 1). This is a great idea and reiterates the above goals.

7. Promote a housing surge* for unsheltered people experiencing chronic homelessness using a 100-Day Challenge model. (Priority 3H, Steps 1-4)
Identify landlords to participate.

8. Implement Moving On strategies for long-term supportive housing residents (as appropriate). (Priority 5E, Steps 1-3)

Identify landlords to participate.

We must aid and assurances and follow through to the landlords that we want to engage if we truly want this to be part of the solution. Expecting things out of people is permissible. People respond to having expectations. Not voicing expectations ensures that none of them will be met.


We are hoping for more a common-sense approach to this situation, one that focuses on mental health and sobriety. We cannot find where any funds have gone towards those 2 things, and considering it is well documented that those are the two primary drivers of why people are on the streets, we feel the focus needs to be redirected in great measure to this goal.

Please see attached summary of our hopes towards this end. Please know that we are in this with you and we want to help. That we do not agree with some of the current ideology should not be taken as an indication that we are not willing to engage in healthy debate. We just do not believe the suggestions of this task force are the only path forward and should not be accepted as foregone conclusions.


The Asheville Coalition for Public Safety”s letter was sent to the City and County in February.

Editor’s Note: This letter has been edited to maintain only the proposals outlined by the Asheville Coalition for Public Safety.