Emily Quig leads the support team for our housing programs— a team that’s working harder than ever since the 2017 fires—and a team whose results include housing retention rates of over 90 percent.

What do you and your staff provide?

We serve such a diverse group of people throughout the county, so we really provide a continuum of support. For people who are severely disabled, we can provide safe housing and intensive services. Other people may need a little help with security deposit and a few months’ rent. Maybe they could benefit from some coaching on how to prioritize their savings and how to make a compelling case to a landlord. Maybe they want some help finding a better job, securing childcare, applying for school— whatever they need to move forward and make it more likely that they’ll be able to sustain their housing on their own. Others might need a shared housing situation—that’s generally one of the most affordable options for people.

I’m constantly inspired by our staff members who are unfailingly supportive. And, more than ever, I’m inspired by the people we’re serving.

The housing market is so crowded and so competitive. It takes such determination to find housing. And then to be able to keep that housing is remarkable.

Who are some of the people you’re helping in the Santa Rosa office?

We’re encountering so many people who didn’t necessarily lose their homes immediately when the fires happened. Some lost their housing later, when landlords decided to move family members or friends in. Or maybe they’re just priced out or are having a hard time competing for a rental with some of the displaced homeowners.

More than ever, I’m inspired by the people we’re serving.

What difference did the fires make to your work?

I think the impact is twofold. First, thanks to the huge outpouring of community support after the fires, we have the resources to help many more people. We’ve opened an office in Santa Rosa to help those people made homeless by the fires get back in housing and we’re doing great in that effort.

Second, we’ve always encouraged people to be open and flexible in their housing searches but since the fires, it hasn’t been a hard sell. People know the conditions on the ground. They’re much less likely to hold out for that perfect unit. They grab hold of what’s available—whether that’s sharing a house or even a room with others, moving out of county, or taking a job that includes housing. Our funding is flexible enough that we can help make nontraditional solutions work.

We’re seeing direct evidence of how many people were secondary victims of the fires. That makes me so grateful that this community stepped up so powerfully and that our funders were adamant that this recovery should belong to everybody.