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As of the census of 2000, there are 5,073 people, 1,935 households, and 1,230 families residing in the city. The population density is 699.5/km² (1,813.7/mi²). There are 2,013 housing units at an average density of 277.6/km² (719.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 83.72% White, 0.63% African American, 3.53% Native American, 1.16% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 7.08% from other races, and 3.84% from two or more races. 14.69% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 1,935 households out of which 35.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.2% are married couples living together, 17.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.4% are non-families. 30.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.56 and the average family size is 3.15.
In the city the population is spread out with 29.2% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 90.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 86.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $26,283, and the median income for a family is $36,193. Males have a median income of $30,983 versus $22,089 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,642. 14.5% of the population and 11.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 18.0% are under the age of 18 and 4.3% are 65 or older.
Willits has a nice small town feel. People know each other and look out for one another. There is an interesting (and often contentious) mix of new age nature lovers and farmers. Marijuana has long replaced lumber as the primary (though unofficial) export.