South County housing crisis to be discussed May 2

UC Santa Cruz survey documented hardship; discussion will focus on support and strategies moving forward

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Sociologists Miriam Greenberg and Steve McKay are organizing a community forum May 2 in Watsonville to discuss the affordable housing crisis. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)
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The regional housing crisis is causing extreme hardship for renters in Watsonville and South County, with a recent survey by UC Santa Cruz indicating more than one-third are spending half their income on rent.

"We talked with over 500 renters in Watsonville and Freedom, and two-thirds are spending more than 30 percent of their household income on rent and utilities," said UC Santa Cruz Sociology Professor Steve McKay. "On top of that, overcrowding is a real problem."

University researchers and community leaders will host a public forum about the affordable housing crisis on Wednesday, May 2, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of the Watsonville Civic Center. The program will be conducted in English and Spanish.

The forum, "The South County Affordable Housing Crisis and Ways to Move Forward," will feature Watsonville Mayor Lowell Hurst; Fred Keeley of Affordable Housing Santa Cruz County; attorney Gretchen Regenhardt of California Rural Legal Assistance; UC Santa Cruz Sociology Professor Miriam Greenberg; student researchers; and McKay.

The forum will focus on sharing information about tenant rights and housing-related support, as well as a discussion with city and county leaders about local community action, policy options, and "steps forward."

Greenberg and McKay are cofounders of the No Place Like Home project at UC Santa Cruz, which has deployed more than 200 UCSC students over two years to survey 1,700 renters across Santa Cruz County. No Place Like Home has partnered with the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County and Community Bridges to produce a detailed and revealing portrait of renters, including non-English speakers in South County.

The forum is being cosponsored by the UCSC Center for Labor Studies; the Department of Sociology; the Division of Social Sciences; the City of Watsonville; Community Bridges' La Manzana Community Resources program; the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County; California Rural Legal Assistance; SEIU Local 251; Economic Justice Alliance; and Affordable Housing Santa Cruz County: The Housing Solutions Initiative.