Support high access shelter in Asheville

Support high access shelter in Asheville

613 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
Petition to
Asheville City Council and

Why this petition matters

Started by Amy Upham

The year 2021 has seen the highest level of unsheltered individuals in the City of Asheville since 2007, the year before GDP beds were expanded. In January of this year, 116 individuals were without shelter, most of them not veterans.

We are writing because this level of unsheltered people is a human rights disaster. Recent research of those staying at the Ramada, and those accessing Haywood St. Congregation and AHope services, the majority interviewed who were not accessing traditional shelters, showed that 70 out of 101 reported having BOTH a physical and mental health condition; 89 at least one. This makes this, in addition to a human rights disaster, a healthcare crisis.

Therefore, we the undersigned, hereby:

(1) Demand that the City AND County adopt the intervention that is working in other cities to provide shelter to most of these individuals: a high-access shelter.

(2) Demand that LOCAL harm reduction and mental health experts be invited to a formal community planning process. A large portion of this group already exists as ANCHOR, representing over a dozen non-profits working at the intersection of homelessness and mental health.

We are in agreement with National Healthcare for the Homeless Council and the American Public Health Association that housing is healthcare, and follow the National Alliance to End Homelessness evidence base, which is cited by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (a federal entity) regarding implementing high-access/("low-barrier) shelter to better serve all who are homeless.

We believe there is no perfect place in the city for emergency shelter because we believe no one should be without permanent housing. However, until availability and access to affordable housing in the City catches up with the homeless crisis, we need a solution to prevent unnecessary death and trauma, and we need it now.

The unsheltered crisis will not go away. In fact, we believe without a high-access, harm-reduction based intervention, it will get worse as individuals who have not accessed traditional shelter and treatment modalities will continue to go without until we meet them where they are at. This includes accepting those without ID, with pets, with partners, with different health conditions-including active Substance Use Disorder and other mental health conditions-, and allowing those who are trans to stay where they feel most comfortable.

Those who do not want this in their backyard have spoken about defecation, needles and petty theft. These are all issues that can be remedied with simple solutions such as needle drop boxes and a place to sleep and use the bathroom. At this time, we are urgently concerned for the safety, health, and life of these individuals if left without a shelter option.

613 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!