San Joaquin County in California faces significant challenges, from inadequate housing for lower-income workers to the threat of severe weather patterns impacting individuals and the agricultural sector. The county’s infrastructural issues, stemming from years of systemic bias and underinvestment, put areas with higher populations of people of color and low-income individuals at a greater risk. Moreover, an impending housing shortage, with over 20,000 units expected by the end of the year and a possible 250% increase in the next eight years, exacerbates the situation. In response, the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) aims to leverage state funds to initiate infrastructure improvements for equitable housing and transportation. The State of California has made approximately $600 million available for local governments to speed up infill housing development, support affordable housing, and decrease vehicle miles traveled.

To tackle these issues, SJCOG is partnering with FUSE to enlist the help of Executive Fellow Lauren Batalias, who will spearhead strategic planning for transportation initiatives. Lauren will collaborate with local government and community stakeholders to implement these strategies to shield vulnerable residents and the agricultural industry from climate and economic disruption impacts. She will embark on a listening tour, engaging with key stakeholders to gather information and build necessary relationships. She will focus on expanding clean transportation infrastructure, regional housing, and workforce development initiatives. Lauren will also contribute to ongoing climate adaptation and resilience efforts, connect with ongoing housing, climate, and transportation initiatives, and seek funding opportunities to support these programs. Equity will be central to this work, emphasizing supporting communities most vulnerable to climate impacts and housing displacement due to historical discriminatory practices.