Why should I care about homelessness?

  • Ethically, practically, and financially, ending it makes our community a better place.
  • When we end homelessness, we see resources freed up to meet other needs, local businesses and tourism faring better, and our neighbors restored to lives of wholeness and dignity.
  • It’s a public health problem. People who are homeless often have to relieve themselves outside. They lack access to health care and often have chronic illnesses, made worse by tough living conditions: sleeping outside in all weather, eating low-quality foods, and being in close quarters with unhealthy people.
  • Homelessness is an economic problem. People without housing consume a lot of public resources and generate expense for the community. In our tourism-driven economy, homelessness can be a deterrent to downtown visitors.
  • Homelessness is a human problem. Our own neighbors live in tents and under bridges, vulnerable to inclement weather and violence, stripped of dignity and our collective respect. At Homeward Bound, we believe a safe, decent, and affordable home is a basic human right.

Our Stories
Some of them even Hollywood wouldn’t believe.


Homeward Bound of WNC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency working in Buncombe County. We end homelessness by moving people into permanent housing and providing the support that they need to stay there.

Our Why

and our commitment to ending WNC homelessness

Our mission is working with others to end the cycle of homelessness.

Homeward Bound began in 1988 as Hospitality House, opening its doors to serve the growing homeless population through long-term emergency shelter. In 2006, Hospitality House became Homeward Bound of WNC, and shifted its focus from managing homelessness with shelter to ending homelessness with permanent housing, utilizing the best practice model of Housing First.

We are the community leader in best practices to end homelessness, and have been using the Housing First model since 2006. The Housing First model has been proven to be the most effective, cost-efficient, sustainable, and humane intervention to homelessness. Essentially this means people experiencing homelessness are housed as quickly as possible and offered case management services to provide support and resources to help maintain housing stability.

Since 2006, we have moved over 2,040 men, women, and children out of cars, camps, and shelters into permanent housing. We have an 89 percent retention rate in housing.


We envision a day when the poor and vulnerable among us will no longer be ignored but treated with compassion and decency. We envision a day when any homeless person, regardless of psychiatric disabilities, substance abuse problems, medical issues, or financial poverty, can move directly into service-enriched permanent housing and become a productive member of society.


  • We believe in the absolute value and worth of every single human being.
  • We believe that housing is a basic human right, integral to self-worth and dignity.
  • We believe that homelessness is a solvable problem.
  • We believe that all services should be offered with respect and empathy, in the spirit of hope and recovery.
  • We believe that we are successful as an organization when one individual takes one step forward on the journey home.

Want to learn more about what we do? Watch our short video below!


Solving homelessness begins with understanding it- Our Why. Here are some of the questions we often get and our answers. If we haven’t addressed your question, please contact us.

Why do people become homeless?

Many paths can lead to homelessness.

Life crises like domestic violence, medical emergencies, divorce, mental illness, and job loss—all normal issues that can happen to anyone—are ways people end up without housing.

People become homeless as a result of these life events because they don’t have a support system to turn to while in crisis—someone who can offer financial, practical, and emotional help to get through the emergency. Our Why

Who is homeless?

Veterans, single mothers, young adults who age out of the foster care system, domestic violence survivors, people who have lost their jobs, people with mental illness.

In our region, over 500 people experience homelessness on any given night, and more than 2,000 people experience it throughout the course of a year. 45% of them are veterans. 7% of them are children. Very few of them have come to Asheville homeless: 75% had housing in Buncombe County before they became homeless and many of them are from this area originally. Our Why

What’s it like to be homeless?

Being homeless is traumatic, exhausting, and dehumanizing.

People don’t look you in the eye or treat you with respect. You’re susceptible to violence, theft, and assault. Homelessness means being exhausted and undernourished, often with little rest. You don’t know where your next meal is coming from or where you will sleep at night.
Men and women can stay in shelters if there are enough beds available. Shelters in our area often don’t have enough beds in extreme weather.

Many people sleep in their cars or at campsites—some because they can’t get into the shelters and others because their mental illnesses make shelters a scary environment. During the day, many people visit the library or other public places, or they go to our AHOPE Day Center for basic services and a safe place to rest. Our Why

What is Housing First?

Housing First means that everyone has a human right to live inside.

It means we move people out of homelessness and into homes as quickly as possible. Then we wrap around the services they need to stay there. We house everyone, regardless of illness, disability, addictions, behaviors, gender, religion, or any other characteristic. Our Why

What about the people who choose to be homeless?

The notion that people choose to be homeless is false.

Homelessness isn’t a choice or a lifestyle, it’s a terrible reality. When people become and stay homeless, it can be hard to see a way out. Sometimes people who have been homeless for a long time may say they are choosing it and it can be because they no longer remember what it’s like to be in housing. Our Why

Where are people rehoused?

Most of our housing is in apartments and trailers owned by private landlords.

When we move people into housing, they either go into public housing or privately owned housing, also known as scattered-site housing. The Housing Authority of the City of Asheville provides public housing options based on income: clients pay sliding-scale rent to the Housing Authority based on what they make. Scattered-site housing is private rental property owned by landlords who charge us fair market rates or below. The client signs the lease in their own name to build credit, but rent comes from Homeward Bound, so the landlord is assured of payment. Landlords have support from our case managers if any issues come up. Most of our clients move into scattered-site housing. Landlords are key to ending homelessness. Click here to find out more about how we work with them. Our Why

Donate Today

A monthly gift allows you to spread the financial impact of your giving across the entire year, lessening a one-time drain on your resources. Also, recurring gifts help Homeward Bound as we can more accurately predict income in advance, which helps with longer range budgeting and decision-making.


Volunteers help us end homelessness 

Come volunteer with us

Come volunteer with us! We offer service experiences for individuals, faith communities, businesses, and schools and youth groups. Volunteers help us end homelessness in our region by helping provide much-needed services to people transitioning into a home.


Contribute to a Cause


Your clean and gently used household items can help others experience the comforts of home. Your donations go directly to women, men, and children moving in to new homes or are used at our Day Center. Donation receipts are available upon request.


Get in Touch. Get Involved.

The Homeward Bound community includes caring staff, volunteers, board members, and people experiencing or moving out of homelessness. We believe that housing is a human right and use the “Housing First” national best practice to end homelessness. We care about the most vulnerable among us and work every day to help them improve their lives. Join us!

37 Montford Ave Asheville, NC 28801

Call Us: (828) 252-8883

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