Many Who Lost Homes in Santa Rosa Wildfire Fear They Can’t Afford to Return Amid Skyrocketing Rents

For Sharon Ditmore, the signs of the holidays showing up in this city devastated by fire are both comforting and depressing.

Car collector Gary Dower speaks with neighbors at his fire-destroyed home in Santa Rosa, California on Oct. 20, 2017. (Credit: Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images)

Car collector Gary Dower speaks with neighbors at his fire-destroyed home in Santa Rosa, California on Oct. 20, 2017. (Credit: Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images)

Ditmore lost her home in the working-class neighborhood of Coffey Park and has been living in a friend’s guesthouse. She can’t help but think back to the Thanksgiving gatherings she enjoyed with family members in the home she and her husband had rented for nearly 30 years.

But in the future, she and the thousands of others who lost homes see nothing but uncertainty. With rents surging as high as $13,000 a month in the aftermath of a fire that destroyed 3,000 Santa Rosa homes, they are not sure they will be able to afford to stay in the increasingly expensive wine country city.

“My landlord said he plans to rebuild,” said Ditmore, 62, who ran a day-care business out of her home. “If I can afford to move back, I will. But like so many others, I’ll have to wait and see.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.