Mini homes for North Bay fire victims

With the one year anniversary of Wine Country's terrible firestorms coming up next week, some of the people least able to afford to rent or rebuild saw a real ray of hope today in mini homes. When you lose everything, downsizing isn't a problem if you can accept the idea of going leaner.

At just 480 square feet, mini homes look to be one solution to the ongoing and nagging shortage of affordable living spaces that have plagued Sonoma County for years, especially since the fires that destroyed 5300 homes, nearly a year ago. At, Kendall-Jackson's Winery and Garden, a volunteer project called "Homes for Sonoma," showed off the first of five such cottages to be placed in a small lot in Windsor around a common green space.

"The first step towards recovery of any homeless person's life is getting a roof over their head. So, if these units can be transported and re-purposed over time, I think it's a start," said George Hamel of Homes for Sonoma.

A bedroom a bathroom and living room and washer dryer. All should be ready next month and will rent for eight to nine hundred dollars a month.

"So this gives so many working people of Sonoma County, the bus drivers, the waitresses, the people who are the backbone, we need a chance and this was the perfect opportunity for this organization to give really good, hard working people a chance to be back in the community and not have to travel from different counties just ot go to work," said fire victim Bridgett Maloney.

Another ten mini-homes, 480 to 750 square feet, will be placed in a commercial lot Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove neighborhood by Habitat for Humanity.

"So we have to become very innovative, very entrepreneurial and very creative to figure out how we're going to fill that gap," said Democratic North Bay Congressman Mike Thompson. "It's a way for us to, you know, have denser development and more housing without expanding the area of development with, you know, inside our resources and utilizing existing resources," said Homes for Sonoma architect Aaron Jobson.

Tonight and every night, 130,000 California's will go to bed homeless. If we want to do something about that, we have to be innovative and it's this kind of innovation that could help solve that problem.

"It's not the solution but it could be part of the solution," said Homes for Sonoma's Hamel.
George Hamel. "I want to live in one of these. This was my desire at retirement, to build a small home. So, I'm just excited about doing it. And, with no retirement, with the burn out, so, I'm only on Social Security, so, this would be perfect for me," said burn out victim Michael O'Brien.

The $100,000 homes are delivered by truck from a factory in Washington state. With FHA's three percent down financing, that's $300 down payment. The monthly mortgage would be $530, plus minimal taxes and insurance.