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With ARPA funding, Buncombe Rental Assistance Collaborative aims to move 200 people into stable housing

The facade of a three story apartment building, with beige siding and covered patios, and a tree and shrubs in the foreground.
Charlie Smith
BPR News
Buncombe County Commissioners awarded Thrive Asheville a $356,000 grant from the American Rescue Plan to develop education programs and incentives for landlords.

Across the U.S., renters face obstacles in finding places to live that accept federal rental assistance. The Buncombe Rental Assistance Collaborative (BRAC) aims to tackle this issue of rental inequity by creating a sustainable model for landlords, tenants and partner agencies.

“Right now, Buncombe County has some of lowest rates of social mobility in the country,” said Kate Pett, executive director at the nonprofit Thrive Asheville. “Accessing safe neighborhoods that are income diverse is the biggest opportunity we have to help children improve life outcomes.”

Buncombe County Commissioners awarded Thrive Asheville a $356,000 grant from the American Rescue Plan to build on the Collaborative’s work. One goal is removing barriers for landlords, who often decline applicants with federal rental assistance because it doesn’t cover all the rent.

Pett says BRAC’s program will make it easier for landlords to navigate the process of rental assistance acceptance and will offer landlords financial bonuses to join the program. Additionally, BRAC will offer up to $10,000 in indemnification.

“One of the best ways we can improve relationships between tenants and landlords is making good matches between them,” said Pett. “We will have a staff person who will support landlords in identifying their needs and finding tenants who are the best fit for their properties.”

Thrive Asheville will partner with agencies that already have a lot of experience working to provide housing to vulnerable populations, including Homeward Bound, Helpmate, and Western North Carolina AIDS Project.

Within their three-year plan, BRAC aims to get over 200 people into stable housing. Thrive Asheville is still accepting landlords into the program.

Charlie Smith is a senior at UNC-Asheville, graduating in August 2022 with BA in Creative Writing, specializing in creative non-fiction.