Business · Modesto

Stanislaus Co. eyes plans ten years ahead on housing, jobs

As California slowly exits the COVID-19 pandemic, Stanislaus County is targeting collaboration with its nine incorporated cities to address long-term economic development, job creation and the housing crisis. 

Jody Hayes, the Chief Executive Officer for Stanislaus County, continued his campaign to each of the county’s city councils Tuesday night as he addressed the Turlock City Council about developing strategies for job creation and housing. 

“Basic concept that every member of our community can work a normal occupation in Stanislaus County and afford to live in a safe neighborhood,” Hayes said. “That’s what it really all comes down to. That’s the fabric of any great community, and that’s what we’re trying to make sure that we lend our support to and working collaboratively with everyone we can here in our community.” 

Stanislaus Community Foundation Chief Executive Officer Marian Kaanon presented the Stanislaus 2030 – Economic Development/Job Creation Strategy. 

While the details on the county’s current situation were not fully fleshed out at the moment, the county hired the Brookings Institution, the famed Washington D.C. think tank, to study and analyze the county’s economic conditions.

That report will be available by the end of the month. 

“It’s substantive and it’s sobering, I will tell you,” Kaanon said. “They do not paint a rosy picture of what’s currently happening.” 

While job creation is a major factor, Kaanon said much of the county’s focus over the next decade needs to be on the quality of jobs coming to Stanislaus County. 

“We are woefully lacking across the county – and we’re not the only county in the Central Valley struggling with this – with wages that actually pay a living wage,” Kaanon. 

Kaanon said the living wage in Stanislaus County is $27 an hour. 

“That’s a wealth building wage. That means they have enough money left over to actually save for the next month, just a bit,” Kaanon said. “But that’s what’s needed for one child and one adult to afford a house or apartment, to pay for their food, to pay for their gas today. We are actually missing 40,000 jobs in our job count that pay that living wage.” 

Currently, half of the county’s population struggles to make ends meet as they are not able to be economically self-sufficient with their jobs. 

Kaanon also said that only one-third of the county’s jobs provide pathways to prosperity, showing a severe gap in good and promising jobs that are available to enable the workforce to achieve self-sufficiency. 

The county’s goal with the Stanislaus 2030 plan is to have an action plan set by the end of July detailing the path forward to seek investments into the community. 

“The communities that are going to prosper in the next decade and beyond are getting really intentional about how they’re going after federal and state funding,” Kaanon said. 

On the housing front, Hayes noted that the county is not trying to tell cities how and where to grow. 

He also said that the housing directive is separate from the efforts to house the homeless. The Housing Stanislaus initiative is geared toward addressing affordable housing, rental housing and home ownership. 

Alan Lange, a managing director with Sacramento firm Valley Vision, addressed the Turlock City Council about the county’s housing crisis. 

Stanislaus County is expected to grow by 10 percent by 2030, which places the region in a precarious position as affordable housing has shrunk. 

One of the main issues Lange pointed to is the reduction in the rate of housing development since the mid 2000s.

In 2004, Stanislaus County had around 4,500 housing units developed. That number shrunk to around 800 by 2019. 

The county’s goal is to have the initiative build a shared vision and policy framework to address housing and have each city move forward together in the same direction. 

The county is looking to hold a housing summit in the summer to officially develop strategies for the Housing Stanislaus initiative.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.