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Buncombe County Considers Homeowner Grant Program

A grant program aimed at providing assistance for Buncombe County homeowners following the 2021 revaluation is closer to reality. On June 15, the Board of Commissioners received an update about the Homeowner Grant Program designed to assist in preserving homeownership for qualified households that do not otherwise qualify for existing exemptions or circuit breaker tax deferment programs.

Following the 2021 revaluation, homeowners in Buncombe County shared concerns with Buncombe County leadership about how new values would disproportionately impact residents, particularly those in Buncombe County’s Legacy Neighborhoods, which include Burton Street, East End/Valley Street, Shiloh, Southside, and Emma. In response, Buncombe County Commissioners included $300,000 for a Homeowner Grant Program in the 2022 budget, which was approved at the June 15 meeting.

While the final design of the program has not been determined, in order to qualify under the current proposed Homeowner Grant Program, homeowners:

  • Must have an income threshold of 80% of the average median income (AMI), which for a family of four is $60,100
  • Must reside in the address as a primary residence for at least one year
  • Cannot participate in an existing exemption program

If qualified, homeowners can receive a grant of up to $1,000.

The grant may only be used to cover Buncombe County taxes. The City of Asheville has separately expressed interest in providing grants for City taxes by participating in the County’s program.

“I’m glad we’re stepping into this area thinking about ways we can address the rising cost of living in the County, particularly as it affects some of our lower income homeowners and residents,” said Chair Brownie Newman. “There aren’t a lot of places attempting this, so I appreciate that we’re looking at other structures like in Charlotte and Durham as well. Our intention is to create a program that would be widely utilized by residents.”

Commissioners directed staff to continue looking at additional models that could help homeowners and address the fundamental principles of equity and access ahead of the July 13 proposed approval.

The 2025 Strategic Plan focuses efforts on affordable housing, resident well-being, and equity. After the Commissioners set aside $300,000 in the 2022 budget for the new public assistance homeowner grant program, staff worked to draft a preliminary plan incorporating feedback from the County’s equity and inclusion work group. 

“Our Health and Human Services team is here to help,” said Economic Services Director Phillip Hardin. “Once we have a program in place and it’s finalized, we encourage anyone who is struggling to pay their property taxes to reach out so we can get them qualified. We are grateful to the Board of Commissioners for their commitment to helping homeowners reduce their financial burden, and look forward to making sure this program gets utilized.”

The draft program proposes that homeowners that meet certain criteria will be eligible for a grant equal to the tax increase between reappraisals, with a maximum grant value of $1,000. Read the complete draft of the current plan here. Once approved, applications and eligibility will be processed through Economic Services in a similar manner to other public assistance grant programs.

The estimated timeline and next steps include:

  • Continued program development based on best practices and community recommendations – feedback can be submitted to prteam@buncombecounty.org by June 25
  • July 13: Board of Commissioners meeting - Review policy options and Memorandum of Understanding/Interlocal agreement with the City of Asheville
  • August: Tax bills sent, including information about Homeowner Grant Program in tax insert
  • Sept.-Nov.: Communications and Public Engagement will coordinate additional outreach programming to assist residents
  • Nov. 15: Application deadline