HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF SONOMA COUNTY
Reinvention and Recommitment—Moving Habitat in a Bold, New Direction
In 2016, Sonoma County was the 10th least affordable county in the United States for housing. Our service-based workforce was being priced out and driven away. So, in early in 2017 Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County (“Habitat”) vowed to build 600 new homes in 10 years for these very low and moderate-income families. To do so, Habitat retooled its construction model to focus on multi-family, medium-density (600-1,000 square feet) designs using innovative, environmentally-friendly materials and new high-tech construction methods. Habitat would then start by building at least 40 homes over the next two years.
October 9 and Our Community Burned
The devastating wildfires destroyed more than 5,000 homes, 5% of the Santa Rosa’s housing stock. More single-family homes were consumed in just a few days than were built in the past 10 years. Estimates now are that it may take a decade to rebuild. Fortunately, Habitat was already committed to a new, aggressive building strategy and was able to step in immediately, accelerating its initial commitment to construct 600 homes in just 6-8 years.
Now, Multiple Housing Initiatives are Already Underway!
We are dedicated to getting fire survivors into homes, some of which may then become permanent, affordable housing. With the influx of post-fire donations, we have five immediate projects underway.
Meanwhile, our teams are working overtime to identify new sites and forge development partnerships that will add numerous homes by the end of 2018.
Habitat is Poised to Respond Further!
Donations were immediately put to work in the days and weeks following this unprecedented disaster. Just one example: “ReStore,” Habitat’s retail center, remained open every day in November and provided $150,000 in gift cards and $300,000 in essential household items to fire survivors.
Immediate shelter is our region’s most pressing, post-disaster problem. In taking the lead to meet this challenge, Habitat is dramatically scaling up housing production with bold, creative strategies. Among them:
Halting the Flow of Displaced Workers Through Housing
Sonoma County needs 19,000 skilled and unskilled construction workers yet many of these families are leaving because of the lack of affordable housing. That tide may become a flood when the new school year begins and families relocate permanently. To help counteract this trend, Habitat is moving rapidly, using off-site construction labor together with our cadre of experienced volunteers to assemble these homes on-site, in compliance with local building codes. This innovative arrangement maximizes productivity while reducing dependence on an increasingly dissipated local labor force.
What’s more, Habitat is actively developing a manufacturing center to be located in Sonoma County for fabricating housing units, employing people, and training a new crop of construction workers based on a similar highly-successful facility in Edmonton, Canada that can build up to five homes a week.
Take a Minute to See Our Full Story!
Our local PBS affiliate, KRCB, produced a video that captures the stories and images of our work in rebuilding Sonoma County. Have a look: https://www.habitatsoco.org/what-we-do/wildfire_rebuild_programs.
After the Fire
Van Fire Review
New Housing Design