California Housing Crisis Worsened by Displacement of 50,000 People in Camp Fire

Jessica Swisher kisses her 7-month-old daughter, Ryan Busby, surrounded by their belongings at a church shelter in Chico where she is staying with her husband and three other daughters after escaping the Camp fire. (Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes)

Jessica Swisher kisses her 7-month-old daughter, Ryan Busby, surrounded by their belongings at a church shelter in Chico where she is staying with her husband and three other daughters after escaping the Camp fire. (Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes)

Two weeks after California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire sent thousands of evacuees fleeing the town of Paradise, “No Vacancy” signs have become a feature of the landscape here.

A second disaster is unfolding.

Across Butte County — a primarily agricultural area known for its walnut, almond and rice farms — towns are struggling to absorb the roughly 50,000 people displaced by the Camp fire. Through no fault of their own, the evacuees’ arrival has worsened the state’s housing crisis and raised the possibility that they could be evicted from the region again, not by fire but by a scarcity of suitable dwellings.

Hotels and motels from Sacramento to Redding are full. The vacancy rate in the rental market, which hovered around 3% before the fire, has fallen to near zero. Unable to find single-family homes in the area, evacuees have resorted to renting individual bedrooms, buying recreational vehicles and purchasing travel trailers. Others are simply leaving California for other western states with a lower cost of living.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.