Black Mountain Chamber Foundation still looking for funding for affordable housing

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Sharon Tabor said affordable housing in Black Mountain is an ongoing problem.

Affordable housing in Black Mountain continues to be a problem, according to Sharon Tabor, the Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of commerce executive director.

“We don’t have any,” Tabor said. “There are three projects in Swannanoa, but there’s nothing actually in the city limits.”

Tabor noted there are some affordable housing apartments on Blue Ridge Road, but residents must be 65 or older.

Earlier this year, Tabor was part of a group called the Black Mountain Chamber Foundation that requested $4 million from Buncombe County as part of American Rescue Plan Act funding.

“We have identified some property, but the challenge is we have about six organizations that are willing to step in as second or third investors, but nobody willing to help out with the first round of investments to purchase the property,” Tabor said. “That’s what put us on hold right now.”

Tabor said the project, known as Building Rehabilitation, was denied funding from Buncombe County because the county has a stipulation that the recipient of the funds must develop and mange the property. The Black Mountain Chamber Foundation had planned to manage the project through a "creative coalition" with various community partners and organizations.

The county was awarded $50.7 million in ARPA funds and has currently given $46.8 million of this money to various projects. According to the Buncombe County website, the highest amount of money in a single category went to affordable housing, with $7.5 million split between four projects.

Building Rehabilitation’s original proposal, put together in part by Tabor, asked for funding to provide one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments across three properties within Black Mountain town limits.

The properties are all on bus routes and within walking distance to schools, shopping, medical care and job opportunities, Tabor said.

Tabor said the county is currently looking at other properties to turn into affordable housing in Black Mountain, but none are within town limits or on bus routes.

Tabor said finding the funds is the biggest issue with moving the project forward.

“If we can find the money, we can make it happen,” Tabor said. “We’ve just got to find the money.”

Tabor said the team she is working with has gone to several developers looking for help, only to be told the project is too small.

They are currently looking at grants and other ways to finance the project.

“We as a chamber don’t have the money to finance the project,” Tabor said. “None of the organizations involved have the finances. We have the expertise and the acumen to make the project happen, but we can’t go out and borrow the money because none of us have those kind of assets.”

Tabor said even if the affordable housing bond referendum passes, there is no guarantee Building Rehabilitation will receive any funding from it.

“We just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Tabor said. “We’re not giving up, it’s just become more and more challenging.”