With fewer than half of us saying we are financially comfortable in these hard times, members of the Sonoma United Methodist Church strongly support local-government action to alleviate the Valley’s housing problems. And we are willing to take action to help each other and to support Food for All/Comida para Todos with its food distributions in the Valley.
That became clear in a recent survey conducted by our church council, with a strong majority of the church members who responded saying they want local government to provide shelter for Sonoma Valley homeless (93%). As well, more than two-thirds (70%) said they support an empty-house tax on second homes and vacation rentals, and as many want local government to maintain and expand mobile-home parks.
Perhaps most impressive (since most of the church members who responded are homeowners), almost two-thirds (63%) said they think local government should adopt rent control and just-cause eviction. Just many said they want the Sonoma Developmental Center used for affordable housing.
This came as fewer than half of the church members (responding anonymously) said they are financially comfortable. Some reported that they are spending more than the federally recommended 30% of their income on their rent or mortgage, that they are cutting back on food and other necessities, or that they will have to leave town if their housing costs rise.
Some reported that their income isn’t keeping up with the cost of living and that inflation is cutting into their retirement savings. They reported that family and friends are in the same predicament.
Two said they don’t know what they’ll do if things get worse.
As a response, two-thirds (67%) said they want to help church members find food and rental assistance when they need it, and just as many said they want to help Food for All/Comida para Todos with their food distributions. Led by Latina parents from the Springs, FFA/CPT has been delivering free food to families in need in Sonoma Valley since the early days of the Covid epidemic. Though they began at El Verano Elementary School in the Springs, they currently operate out of our church.
Founded in Sonoma before the Civil War, Sonoma United Methodist is at 109 Patten Street.
— Dave Ransom, chair, Spiritual Action Group
Sonoma United Methodist Church