In September 2021 the SonomaIndependent.org, an award-winning public interest solutions and advocacy website owned by Progressive Source Communications, created the Campaign to Stop All Government Evictions from Safe Affordable Alternative Housing (SAGE).
Working with local activists and the county’s largest grassroots housing rights groups, the effort has grown to be one of the most important affordable housing campaigns in California history. More than 43,000 people in the county have viewed this three minute advocacy music video that Progressive Source created featuring tiny home grandma Copperwoman Saso:
Using the California Public Records Act, an extensive 3-month investigation by the Sonoma Independent.org discovered that last year the county’s code enforcement agency ordered affordable housing property owners to evict about 200 low income renters, many of them seniors, from trailers, tiny homes and other alternative housing. Even though this housing is on the whole perfectly safe and even though the same structures are legal in other circumstances or localities, Permit Sonoma considers any dwelling that lacks a permit to be a threat to health and safety. Because most of these homes are trailers or have compost toilets, they are either impossible or prohibitively expensive to legalize. Right now, a single phone call from an anonymous neighbor results in an inspection by the agency and, 98% of the time, a 30-day vacate order enforced by draconian fines, forcing people to evict beloved friends, seniors and even siblings from their own properties. Meanwhile, an estimated 20,000 low income renters people live in similar alternative unpermitted homes, with zero evidence of ill health or danger.
Alternative housing uses far less water and has a much smaller carbon footprint than ordinary homes and apartments, and it is the only affordable market rate housing available in Sonoma County. Despite this, local government currently criminalizes the very type of housing that should be focused on encouraging.
More than 3,000 people have signed the Sonoma Independent’s petition here urging County Supervisors to vote for an urgency ordinance similar to the proposed moratorium here that Progressive Source, working with activists and Supervisor Lynda Hopkins’ staff, drafted an urgency ordinance for a proposed moratorium here. We have also organized delegations of public speakers to call for the end of a dysfunctional system that causes twice as many low income residents to become homeless as the county spends nearly $20 million each year acquiring housing for.