As the holidays approach, evacuees whose homes were burned are left with little more than uncertainty.
Santa Rosa, California wildfire victims are facing a very uncertain future in the aftermath of the blaze. Evacuees whose homes are gone may not be able to afford to return to the same place they used to live.
Rents have skyrocketed, with reports of apartments as expensive as $13,000 per month in Santa Rosa.
Now, renters and homeowners alike are finding themselves to be common California wildfire victims who don’t know where they will be able to live. Thousands of people who have rented their homes for decades have lost everything and can no longer afford the new leases being offered. Approximately 3,000 homes were destroyed by the fires. The result is a shortage of options and far higher rents than the residents of this working class neighborhood can afford
“My landlord said he plans to rebuild,” said Sharon Ditmore, who has rented the same Coffey Park neighborhood home with her husband for almost thirty years. Ditmore, 62, lost not only her residence but also her place of business. She had been operating a day-care out of her rented home. “If I can afford to move back, I will. But like so many others, I’ll have to wait and see.”
There were thousands of Coffee Park, California wildfire victims, as hundreds of homes there burned down.
In that area, approximately 40 percent of the residents were renters. Now, with a shortage of livable homes, spiking rents and the potential that the neighborhood may completely reinvent itself, former residents fear that they will not be able to return to their former lives.
Santa Rosa’s Gallaher Construction Inc. recently posted “Bring Back Coffey Park: Looking to Rebuild or Sell?” on its website. This has only worsened the concerns that the devastated neighborhood could potentially return as something entirely different and out of the former renters’ reach.
Even among those with renters insurance coverage to provide them with a place to stay over the short term, policyholders still face a shortage of available housing and high rents that rapidly eat through their coverage cap.
Recent town hall meetings and social media platforms have, as a result, become platforms for heated debates regarding the situation of the California wildfire victims and what will happen next.
“It’s chaos here because we’ve got big issues with big cost considerations — and no plan in place to tackle them,” said construction company owner, Keith Christopherson. “When people ask what it’ll cost to rebuild their homes, I say, ‘I don’t know,’ to keep their spirits up. But the truth is that costs and rent payments will be pushed up by code upgrades and severe shortages of local available housing, labor and basic building materials such as wall board, concrete and paint.”