Special Coverage: Stuck In Squalor

Movement by Santa Rosa and Sonoma County on issues like rent control and housing inspections could lead to action in other local cities. It comes amid a housing crunch that officials have called a crisis.
A tenant’s complaint is the first step in an often-prolonged process seeking repairs to living conditions that have been called into question.
Some officials who investigate complaints of code violations in Sonoma County rental housing are allowed to cherry-pick which cases they pursue, a Press Democrat investigation reveals.
Nine families who last year had to move out of the Bennett Valley Townhomes are now part of a closely-watched lawsuit against the property's current and former owners.
Tenants who endure poor housing conditions can suffer severe health repercussions. But the extent of the problem is not clear because no government agency or data tracks illness in connection with living environments.
Hundreds of people in Sonoma County, perhaps even thousands, live in housing so run down that it puts at risk the tenants’ health and safety, a PD investigation has found.