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High Cost of Housing in Sonoma County

by Chabeli Huinac
This article is about the high cost of housing in Sonoma County. Many low-income families are struggling to find affordable rental housing and many of them are on the waitlist for Section 8, a housing assistance program.
High Cost of Housing in Sonoma County

By Chabeli Huinac

Sonoma County is one of the top least affordable places to live in the US making low-income families struggle to find affordable housing.

Section 8, also known as The Housing Choice Voucher Program helps low-income families, elderly people, and disabled people afford rental housing. According to the City of Santa Rosa, this federal program helps Voucher holders only pay approximately 30–40% of their monthly income towards the rent. For an individual to qualify, their annual income must be less than 40,750 and for 2 persons is 46, 550. Unfortunately, there are so many families in need of affordable housing, that the waitlist is about 4-5 years.

Last year in 2021, The Sonoma County Housing Authority was accepting applications for its Housing Choice Voucher waitlist. The Sonoma County Housing Authority opens its waitlist again in about 2 years, and the Housing Choice Voucher waitlist is currently closed.
People who are looking for housing assistance in Sonoma County have a hard time finding affordable rental housing, especially after the wildfires erased about 5.300 homes in Sonoma County. In addition, some landlords decided to no longer accept Section 8 and asked their tenants to move out because landlords also lost their homes.

Landlords also want to make a business out of their apartments. Although the California law prohibits landlords from discriminating against renters, it does not include those who are receiving section 8. Many landlords are not interested in registering in the Section 8 program because of the misconception they have about low-income renters. Once an applicant is off the waitlist, that does not automatically mean their application is accepted or a place is guaranteed.
In 2018, more than 4,700 tenants in Sonoma County were enrolled in the section 8 program. Sadly, the state, nor local governments are not building housing for those that are less fortunate. Clearly. The laws need to be re-enforced to protect those that are enrolled in section 8 and demand the state to build housing for low-income families.

Chabeli Huinac, transfer student from College of Marin to Sonoma State University. Class of 2023, majoring in Sociology.
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