If you want something on your site to pay for the hosting, you could use the Dreamhost promo codes (or referral links) you asked about, rather than chance getting on Google's bad side.
Since the hosting is cheap, it doesn't take a lot of referrals to pay for the hosting. Even though there are $97 codes all over this forum, it is still possible to get referrals with much smaller ones. Plus, if someone uses the $97 code on a monthly plan, you still get a big percentage of it.
You could also look into some CPA programs like CJ, where you can browse through advertisers that would be of interest to your target audience. You might even do okay with something generic like ringtones, Columbia House (DVD or Music), etc...
If you get really popular and start getting a lot of traffic, you might even be able to sell links to relevant sites. Google doesn't really like the idea of paid links (unless they're the ones getting paid), but you shouldn't have problems if the links are relevant. Example: A video site with a front page link to a mortgage or Viagra site will look like a paid link.
Regardless of how you choose with ads/affiliates, just be sure to read their TOS. Besides site content, many have catches like where you put ads, use of pop-ups/pop-unders, images near ads, or encouraging clicks.
Save up to $96 at Dreamhost with ALMOST97 promo code (I get $1).
Or save $97 with THEFULL97.