Boards and Commissions Spotlight: Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee

Looking for a way to get involved in local government and play a part in shaping the future of Asheville? Serving on an Asheville City Council Board or Commission is a great place to start. More than 250 people serve on 35 advisory boards and help guide policy decisions for the City of Asheville.

Each month we offer a profile of one of these valuable advisory boards. To see a list of openings on Council Boards and Commissions through 2014, click here.

Council Board and Commission profile: Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee
Formed in: 2008
Number of members: 16
Term: Three years
Meets: Fourth Monday of each month, 11 a.m., Housing Authority Board Room, 165 S. French Broad Avenue

With 16 members, the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee is one of the larger boards in the City of Asheville and is one of only a handful that has members appointed by both the City of Asheville and Buncombe County. That’s because the issue of homelessness affects a broad area and population not restricted to city limits.

In 2007, Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Commissioners approved the 10-Year-Plan to End Homelessness and formed the Homeless Initiative. Director Heather Dillashaw is the initiative’s only staffer, and says the advisory committee is critical for advancing the goals of the 10-Year-Plan, researching and tracking data that paint an accurate, useful picture of homelessness in the area.

“They are the Initiative. Their work is the reason we reduced chronic homelessness by 82 percent since 2006,” Dillashaw said. “They are the reason we are on track with the 10-year-plan.”

The Homeless Initiative receives approximately $1 million in Federal funding annually and one of the HIAC’s biggest jobs is to determine where those resources can do the most good. Often, those recommendations go to Council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, which works to prioritize affordable housing issues. Affordability remains at the top of Asheville City Council’s strategic operating plan.

Recommendations from the HIAC have resulted in reduced chronic homelessness as well as the cases of veterans experiencing homelessness. Efforts continue to address the “hard to house” population as well as the issue of family and youth homelessness, all of which require different resources and strategies.

HIAC members are often involved with service providers and agencies that deal with homelessness issues, and serve on a variety of sub committees according to their expertise. But committee chair David Nash says that members from outside those organizations provide critical input as well.

“The real value of this group is having a lot of different perspectives in the room,” says Nash, who serves as Deputy Director of the City of Asheville Housing Authority.
“It helps having members of the public there to ask questions that those of us closer to the issues wouldn’t think about.”

The City of Asheville is currently advertising for applicants for the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee as well as the Board of Adjustment, the Community Relations Council, the Fireman’s Relief Fund, the Metropolitan Sewerage District Board, the Riverfront Area Redevelopment Commission, the Sustainable Advisory Committee on Energy and Environment and the Tree Commission. Applications are due by January 8, 2014. If you would like to apply for any of these boards or commissions, contact the City Clerk at (828) 259-5601 or or follow this link for more information.