Skip to Content

Neighbors around homeless center want action from city

By Kimberly King

Click here for updates on this story

    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Neighbors of AHOPE Day Center on North Ann Street are fed up with vandalism, drug dealing and people shooting up just feet from their properties.

News 13 has been reviewing email communications between business owners and property owners on Ann Street and the Patton Avenue corridor around the site run by Homeward Bound.

Pastor Samuel Payne, of Sycamore Temple Church of God in Christ, spoke with News 13 about his ongoing public safety concerns for his parishioners and the immediate community.

“We’ve witnessed break-ins, sexual relationships on the church property, defecating, urinating on the front porch of the church,” Payne said. “We’ve also had deaths on the property.”

The AHOPE Day Center is about 400 feet north of the church. Both buildings are on North Ann Street.

“Police are up and down here constantly,” Payne said.

Payne said he had attempted to contact Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell about the problems around AHOPE.

“We’ve written a letter,” Payne said. “No response.”

The news comes after months of emails and communications by Payne’s neighbor on Carter street. Terry Simmons owns a rental home that backs up against AHOPE. For years, Simmons has written Asheville city leaders, asking them to address drug use and crime concerns around the AHOPE site.

Simmons and Payne said the city has asked them to clean up graffiti on their fence lines or pay fines. Both men said AHOPE’s homeless clients are responsible for the vandalism.

Simmons has taken videos of men shooting up and smoking what he believes are illegal drugs. The videos were part of News 13’s report on the ongoing crisis around the AHOPE center, where homeless people congregate during the day.

Email chains copied to Mayor Esther Manheimer, Campbell and Asheville Council members reveal ongoing issues for property owners. Former Asheville Councilman Jan Davis, who owns Jan Davis Tire Store, emailed the chain and Homeward Bound’s interim director Cindy McMahon last Friday about problems.

“We had five windows broken last week,” Davis said in the email. “Fortunately, smaller than the large plate glass ones in the front. I did talk to Mike DeSerio (Homeward Bound) asking they communicate to their client base a need to respect neighboring property. I did not fill out a police report as it seems like a waste of time in this area.”

Another property owner along Ann Street provided another account of ongoing issues.

“A camping tent set up on, and completely blocking, one of the sidewalks. One of the much needed ‘No Parking’ signs ripped out of the ground and blocking my driveway. Garbage on the street. Garbage throughout my property. Used needles amongst it all. Garbage blocking my driveway,” the property owner said.

Councilwoman Sage Turner responded to the email discussion.

“Cindy, I see you are on this thread. Please respond to these concerns. Please also inform us of Homeward Bound’s planning and ongoing efforts around this issue. It needs resolution. It’s not acceptable what is happening. Please include me in the reply,” Turner said.

Kit Cramer, president of Asheville’s Chamber of Commerce, who was also part of the email chain, said she’d like to hear McMahon explain what’s going on and why problems persist.

Back on Carter Street, Simmons said he’s continued to witness problems.

“Dealing drugs, selling drugs,” Simmons said. “The people coming to and from are breaking the law. They need to be treated the same way. If that were the case, I don’t think we’d have an issue here.”

Simmons said he thinks city leaders are giving the homeless who come to AHOPE a pass on accountability when it comes to crime and vandalism around the area.

“I recognize the frustration,” McMahon said. “We want to have on-site security, and it’s prohibitively expensive. We’re looking at probably $10,000 to $15,000 a month in order to be able to provide security overnight and weekends that we need.”

When asked if potential funding for security could come from public taxpayer funds, McMahon said she didn’t know where funding would come from but she had been in direct conversation with Campbell and Manheimer.

McMahon knows neighbors would prefer AHOPE relocate, but she said there’s no available site that is along a bus line and would serve the needs of the homeless downtown. She said Homeward Bound is focused on housing and can’t assist with the other critical piece of the crisis, which is drug addiction.

McMahon said she didn’t know if there was a lead agency or nonprofit working to help the homeless with drug addiction, but she said Sunrise was one non-profit trying to help. However, Sunrise has been facing controversy at the Ramada Inn shelter, where there have been reports of overdoses among residents in the program.

Payne simply hopes someone at the city finally pays attention to what he said is happening on North Ann. He said he and his congregation have compassion for the homeless and used to feed them hot breakfasts. But he said in recent years fights have broken out and the church no longer provides the meals because of safety concerns.

“One of our biggest concerns here is we have children on our lots, and they (homeless) have their drug paraphernalia they’re throwing down,” Payne said. “I wish they could relocate AHOPE somewhere else. Members are afraid to even come on the property or come to church.”

Campbell and Manheimer have declined News 13’s repeated requests for interviews about how the city plans to address immediate concerns about the homeless crisis.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content