MountainTrue’s Chris Joyell Writes About Housing, Open Space, and Climate Change in MTX
In this Mountain Xpress Contributor Piece, MountainTrue Healthy Communities Program Director Chris Joyell explains the undeniable connection between housing and the integrity of our natural environment. Joyell discusses how Buncombe County’s Open Space and Affordable Housing Bond Initiatives will help the county meet its goals of ensuring stable housing for children, homeownership for working families, and safe housing for seniors, while also protecting mountains, forests, productive farmlands, and clean water in our streams and rivers for future generations.
MountainTrue and our organizational partners are proud to endorse both the Open Space and Housing Bond Initiatives, and we encourage you to vote yes on both bonds this election season. Learn more about the bonds and how they work, see what other community institutions endorse them, and read a helpful FAQ on the Better With Bonds website.
“A colleague of mine recently closed on his first house. After years of anxiously scanning listings in Asheville and Buncombe County, he realized that if he were ever to become a homeowner, it would have to happen in another county — in this case, Haywood County.
Likewise, another colleague recently graduated college and began working at MountainTrue last year. She, too, has been frustrated by the housing market, having to settle for a substandard rental unit with a negligent landlord. As rent costs in Buncombe County soar, she has grown doubtful that she will find a better living situation soon. The prospect of owning her own home here is beyond imagination.
Both their struggles reflect our growing housing crisis, where people with stable jobs and decent pay are running out of housing options in Buncombe County. People like the teachers, artists, service industry workers, small-business owners, nurses and others who make Buncombe County such a vibrant place to live.
In response to this dilemma, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners recently approved a ballot referendum that will direct $30 million toward the preservation of open space and $40 million toward the development of housing that is affordable for the county’s workforce. This November, county residents will get to vote on the bonds separately.
The open space and housing bonds can work in conjunction with one another. Buncombe County remains largely rural, and ample land is available to develop housing. The county will likely prioritize the more rural and remote areas for land conservation. On the other hand, housing that is affordable for the county’s workforce is best located in areas already developed and closer to transit services, jobs, schools and commercial centers.”