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What Matters Most in 2024

By Evan Schmidt

Taking action together on the issues that most impact our region’s quality of life is critical to enabling the well-being of all. In 2024 we will face key decision points and need to address critical social, economic, and environmental challenges. The following recommendations were identified as part of our recent Livability Poll as the issues that matter most, while highlighting promising practices for our region.

Develop a collaborative and healthy civic culture to increase potential for transformation: In order to change systems and achieve different solutions, we must do things differently. This means that we must build trust, support aligned actions, stay open to new learnings, and advance connected, collaborative relationships. The Livability Summit hosted by Valley Vision is one example of civic space that is designed to catalyze collaborative solutions.

Accelerate housing development, especially infill and transit oriented: Addressing housing undersupply, advocating for efficient infrastructure investments, supporting innovative and adaptive practices, accepting new housing projects, and supporting initiatives like Green Means Go will help long term goals around housing affordability and accessibility. Immediate term initiatives that support pathways to homeownership, reduce displacement, and create responsive housing for those who are unhoused will support communities where they need it now.

Address persistent gaps in the social safety net: Accessible services for mental health, medical healthcare, food security, digital accessibility, and other basic needs are critical. Effective collaboration across nonprofits and jurisdictions is needed to invest adequate resources and reach the communities who need it most. Promising practices like guaranteed income programs as implemented by United Way California Capital Region and Yolo County offer potential solutions to help families close affordability gaps. Additionally, conducting outreach and education to expand participation in programs like CalFresh and affordable internet programs also bring millions of dollars into impacted communities.

Address workforce challenges and other challenges in the care economy to increase regional capacity: Addressing senior care and childcare as a workforce challenge will involve a multifaceted approach to the way we implement solutions from multiple stakeholders. To increase childcare capacity, some possible strategies include: advance multiple-subject teaching credentials, expand workforce pathway support for entry-level teachers, expand work-based learning and credit for prior learning, provide specific support for underrepresented groups, and accelerate awards production for our region to remedy existing staffing shortages and meet demand. See the Shortages in Early Childhood Education study for more information.

Build a pipeline of good jobs that support a clean economy: Our region is engaging in an intensive effort to identify our potential for high quality job growth and working with communities across the region to build out a pipeline of supportive infrastructure and initiatives to support an inclusive and thriving economy through the Capital Region California Jobs First (CERF) program. Fully integrate climate resilience with inclusive economic development actions: We are facing a systemwide transition to a lower carbon economy. This will require an all hands-on-deck effort to envision and implement an inclusive and equitable low carbon future. The level of systems integration between economy, environment, and community is significantly different and more complex than conditions of the past. We need to see all jobs as climate jobs and all economic growth as climate resilience to create a thriving economy for the future.

Achieving a more livable region requires addressing disparities in access to essential needs, fostering opportunity across all demographics, and nurturing a sense of belonging within the community. It is through collective effort and a commitment to these principles that the Sacramento Region can work towards a brighter, more inclusive, and truly livable future for all its residents. We look forward to working with you this year on collaborative solutions to the things that matter most for the people and places in our region.

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance livability in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter.

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Evan Schmidt is CEO of Valley Vision.

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