An April 16 mountainx.com story included photos from the Asheville Homeless Network’s visit to Mayor Bellamy’s office, where they were able to share their views with city staff about homelessness and housing in our community [“Asheville Street People Claim ... Harrassment”]. At Homeward Bound, we’re grateful to be part of a community with leadership that’s responsive to homeless constituents. Mayor Bellamy and the city have been very supportive of the 10-year plan to end homelessness, as well as our agency’s work to implement that plan with permanent housing and support.
As folks from the Homeless Network expressed, criminalization of homelessness has been an issue across the country. Criminalizing homelessness harms everyone: taxpayer dollars are wasted on police and jail time, and people who are homeless acquire more barriers to accessing housing and stability. For those reasons, Mayor Bellamy and our local government have supported creation and implementation of the 10-year plan to end homelessness and have focused public resources on the solution: housing and support. Housing solves much of the criminalization problem, since many of the activities people who are homeless are arrested for — such as trespassing or public urination — are simply the result of not having a home.
We’re grateful for the Asheville Homeless Network’s voice in Asheville and for the community’s strong response. We need our community to continue to be responsive to homelessness by investing in the solution, because it’s working. Homeward Bound moved 27 people out of homelessness and into permanent housing last month alone, and we’ll continue that work, alongside the Asheville Homeless Network and others and with the support of public officials, until everyone in our community has a safe, affordable place to call home.
— Emily Ball