Sonoma County was dealing with a housing crisis well before the October 2017 firestorms. Rental occupancy was at 99 percent and people who worked in hospitality and agriculture were traveling longer and longer distances to find housing they could afford. Then came the fires that destroyed more than 5,000 homes in Sonoma County alone. Thousands of people in the region have been displaced, rents have gone up and finding an affordable place to live has become even more difficult.
In 2016, Alameda County, passed Measure A1 — a 580-million general obligation bond to combat the local affordable-housing crisis. And now that funding is being turned into affordable housing and being used for other programs to assist county residents with their housing needs. The bond passage allowed the County to provide $25.6 million in emergency funding for nine projects that had hit a financial wall when the low-income housing tax credit market suddenly declined, leaving large, unanticipated financing gaps.