Fresno aerial
Aerial of downtown Fresno. (Photo credit: Ron Reiring / Flickr)

Grecia Elenes grew up in Fresno, California. She says some parts of the city have been neglected for decades. When she moved back after college she realized nothing has changed.

“You see the same vacant lots. You see the same liquor stores,” she says. “There’s still no parks. You have the same missing sidewalks.”

Now, she has hope that change is coming.

Elenes works as a policy advocate with the nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

She says that as part of California’s cap-and-trade program, major polluters in the state are charged for the carbon emissions they generate.

Some of that money is set aside for programs that both promote economic development and cut carbon pollution in disadvantaged communities. The state awarded Fresno more than $66 million for improvements in a five square mile area.

“That has historically not received any type of investment,” Elenes says, “to transform the community in the way that the community sees fit.” New infrastructure might include walking trails, sidewalks, or bike lanes, she says.

These amenities can help cut carbon pollution because they help create walkable neighborhoods. They also improve health and quality of life.

“I really hope it will catalyze a transformation that this community so rightly deserves,” Elenes says.

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Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Jobs & Economy