Buncombe County sees the Cease the Harm Audit Report

The audit and its 108 recommendations will be used to inform the final report of the Community Reparations Commission and the County’s Strategic Plan 2030.

Asheville skyline facing west with the sun in the center of the photo.

More than 1,000 artifacts, including policies and reports, underwent examination for the audit.

Photo by AVLtoday

At a meeting earlier this month, Dr. Adrian Carter and the Carter Development Group presented the Cease the Harm Audit Report to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. This audit is the first-known of its kind funded by a municipal and county government, leading the way with 168 pages measuring 30 metrics in seven focus areas and offering 108 recommendations.

Proposed by the Community Reparations Commission, the Cease the Harm Audit began back in August 2023. Simply put, its purpose is to look at City of Asheville and Buncombe County services to “aspire to cease the perpetuation of institutional processes resulting in racially disparate outcomes for African American residents.”

What were the findings?

The report presented four overarching thematic key harm observations.

  • Insufficient data-driven practices to measure the level of African American participation in local opportunities
  • Insufficient evaluation practices of grant recipients
  • Limited affordable housing supply as well as a lack of cohesive strategy from local government
  • A lack of wide-scale racial equity training for local government staff.

That’s the big picture — the report went on to offer more than 100 specific recommendations across areas like criminal justice, education, economic development, health + wellness, and housing. The group made suggestions like increasing support for start-up firms, adding public health updates to BCAlerts from CodeRED, opening additional indoor winter markets in Black communities, and allocating funding for sustaining and expanding Black homeownership over the next three years.

The group also gave five high-priority inclusive community-building recommendations. They recommended designating legacy communities as historic districts, increasing Buncombe County jurisdiction over school districts to meet racial equity benchmarks, developing an online dashboard for business owners to identify government project procurement opportunities, creating a community-led Black chamber of commerce, and conducting a disparity study.

There’s lots more detail where that came from, so check out the full audit report or the overview presentation.

What happens now?

This audit will be evaluated and used by the Community Reparations Commission to inform its final report and recommendations to the City and County. The final report has a June deadline but may receive an extension. In the meantime, you can join a specially called Reparations Commission meeting on Monday, April 8 or the next regular meeting in person or virtually on Monday, April 15.

Many of these recommendations may also be included in the County’s next five-year strategic plan. The development process for Strategic Plan 2030 gets underway in April and will be up for its first round of community feedback in May.