Ashvegas Virus Hot Sheet: Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville converted to homeless shelter


More of what’s going around:

-The Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville in downtown Asheville was converted Wednesday night into a shelter for some of the city’s most most vulnerable residents. City officials and officials with the local nonprofit Homeward Bound that serves the city’s homeless, led the collaborative effort that will house not as an open shelter, but as a place to house some of the most at-risk city residents in need. The operation meets or exceeds all CDC recommendations for homeless shelters, according to city officials, and was approved by health inspectors and the fire marshal. The agencies involved: Asheville city government, Buncombe County government, Homeward Bound, BeLoved, Asheville Poverty Initiative and 12 Baskets, UNC Asheville, Haywood Street Congregation, Appalachian Mountain Community Health Center, Dale Fell community health center and the VA Medical Center.

-Kit Cramer, president of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, delivered an update Thursday on the performance of the One Buncombe Fund, created to minimize red tape and move quickly to assist the community with financial support to those who lost their jobs while awaiting state and federal resources, and provide loans to local small businesses, Cramer said.

As of Thursday, Buncombe County Health & Human Services, which administers the fund, had received 2,050 applications for assistant, Cramer said. Of those, 775 requests have been processed, for $138,000 in approved expenditures to 341 people, she said. Of those who have received grants, 70 percent said their need was for housing rent or mortgage, with 20 percent saying they needed help with utility bills and 6 percent saying they needed the money for car payments or insurance.

Cramer continued by giving a breakdown, by zip code, of where the grants have gone: 22 percent are in 28806 zip code (West Asheville); 14.5 percent in 28804 (North Asheville); 12 percent in 28803 (South Asheville); 10 percent in 28704. The other remaining nine zip codes each saw less than 10 percent in grant monies.

Mountain BizWorks administers the loan side of the OneBuncombe fund. Cramer said the organization had so far received 133 applications and made 26 loans, for a total of 243,000. The loans are helping retain a total of 240 jobs, she said. Some 19 minority and women-owned businesses have received help through the fund, according to Cramer, with the most loans made to smallest business. Here’s the breakdown: 11 loans going to companies with 1 to 5 employees, 6 loans to companies with 6 to 10 employees, 7 to companies with 11 to 20 employees and 2 loans to companies with 21 to 30 employees