Earlier this year we stopped holding regular hack nights and focused instead on finding potential community partners like the Homeless Coalition, BeLoved and the Economic Justice Workgroup and collaborating with them to identify opportunities for the members of Code for Asheville to make meaningful contributions.
We have been thrilled with the results. Here’s what we’ve accomplished in just the past few months:
Buncombe County Reentry Resources Hub
Returning to your community after a period of incarceration or suffering the consequences of a criminal conviction on your record can be difficult. To help, we built the Buncombe Reentry Resources Hub under the guidance of Christiana Tugman, the City of Asheville’s homeless coordinator and in partnership with Pisgah Legal Services and the Community Resource Council at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women.
The site has been shared with the Homeless Coalition (over 200 organizations), the United Way, the Criminal Defense Bar, and the Department of Public Safety and case managers at all three prisons in Buncombe County. There will be ongoing work to keep the site up to date and to make it easier to replicate for other counties in NC (and perhaps beyond). Code for Greensboro has expressed interest in creating a Guilford County version, and we are exploring other potential collaborations.
Thanks to Jay Hill, JeriBeth Stevens and Tom Pace for all their help!
Using Data to Explore the Criminalization of Homelessness
Patrick Conant submitted several public records requests to the City of Asheville and Buncombe County for citation and arrest data from the Asheville Police Department over an 11 year period from 2005 – 2016, a period corresponding to the City’s 10 year plan to end homelessness. In order to isolate those citations issued to possibly homeless individuals, the analysis focused on citations for specific categories and of individuals who listed one of four addresses that correspond to the jail and several shelters in Asheville as a proxy for citations of homeless individuals.
Code for Asheville members also joined the #housingnothandcuffs rally led by the BeLoved Community to call attention to the need to focus resources on the underlying issue of affordable housing over policing those who need help.
Thanks to Patrick, Jesse Michel, Lauren Showfety and Jay Hill for their contributions!
We have more projects underway. Code for Asheville members are collaborating with the Economic Justice Workgroup and the Asheville Housing Authority (HACA) to analyze HACA and U.S. Census data to better understand the economic challenges faced by the Asheville African-American community. We’re also working with BeLoved to collect and fix used PCs to establish a computer cafe for folks struggling with homelessness.
Regular Meetings are Back, With Help from the City of Asheville
A major consequence of all the work we’ve done? More work to do! We have lots of tasks that we could use help with, from updating the reentry site and planning for its future to working with all the data collected and helping tell the stories that live there. So we’re restarting our regular gatherings, monthly for now. And, thanks to the generous support of the City of Asheville Parks & Recreation Department, we’ll be rotating our meetings through the various neighborhood rec centers.
We start next month at Stephens-Lee on December 8 at 5:30PM. We’ll be working on the projects above as well as learning about the City’s plans for new open records request and open data portals. Also pizza. Make sure you RSVP so we have enough!