The fight for dignified and affordable homes for all came to Sonoma Plaza on September 22 with the Sonoma Renters Rally, adding local voices to a statewide Renters Week of Action.
“Renters deserve a life free from constant fear of eviction, disruption, and displacement from our own communities,” said Ann Colichidas, an organizer of the event.
The agenda called for renter rights including affordable housing, and rent control, just-cause eviction, and community control over land.
The local action on September 22 was part of Renters Week of Action in California.
With a vacancy rate of less than one percent, Colchidas said, “rents are skyrocketing and units are scarce, sometimes there is literally no place to go. This hidden epidemic is wreaking havoc on our neighbors and siphoning huge amounts of money out of our local economy.”
Former City Councilmember Ken Brown served as MC, and introduced guest speakers including community activist Mario Castillo (pictured). The Springs neighborhoods are being especially hard hit with evictions and rent spikes, he said. A speaker from FISH said its Rental Assistance Program has seen 100 percent increase from last year.
Evan Livingston, a housing outreach attorney, warned that unlawful detainers can destroy a tenant’s credit, even as they comply with terms of the eviction. To that end, Legal Aid works to keep tenants rights and credit rating intact through the eviction process.
Sonoma Mayor Rachel Hundley (pictured) spoke of her own eviction from a house in the Springs, and read a City proclamation (posted below) in recognition of Renters Week of Action.
The rally was sponsored by the Sonoma Valley Housing Group and the Sonoma Valley chapter of the Golden State Manufactured-Home Owners League (GSMOL), with support from the Sonoma Valley Democratic Club and the North Bay Organizing Project.