Housing Crisis Made Worse by Northern California Wildfires

SONOMA COUNTY -- Amid the hills and valleys of Sonoma County's wine country lies Cameron Mauritson's 400 acres of vineyards. And although none of the recent wildfires touched an inch of his crop, he says what they did destroy, could be just as bad for business.

"There's just not enough housing before these fires. And then you take 5 percent of our housing stock, and donate that to the fires, and it puts us in a bigger predicament," said Mauritson.

He says people he relies on -- like seasonal migrant workers -- already had a hard time finding suitable living spaces. Many of them are undocumented and can't file insurance claims if their homes or their families' homes burned down.

Not to mention, hotel workers, cooks and restaurant employees who staff the wineries he sells to whose price of living just went up.

"Without the people who run the businesses, we don't have a thriving economy," he said.

"The housing situation now is absolutely at a catastrophic level," said Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane.

Zane says the housing crisis was a priority for the county before the fires wreaked havoc on Northern California. Median home prices reached $640,000, and she says seniors, undocumented workers and renters were being priced out every day.

But now she calls the housing crisis and emergency.

"We know we've lost well over 4,000 homes, conservatively, we haven't been able to count the rental units," she said.

As the cleanup efforts continue, there's no telling how long it may take for the county to fully recover. But Zane says they need to act fast.

"It will harm our businesses and the families who lived here for many years if we can't build better and build fast," she said.