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A New Lens on Health

Post Heather Arata

Hello Get Healthy SMC partners!

As many of you may know, Maeve Johnson will be on leave for a few months. While Maeve is away, I will be handling her workload pertaining to healthy housing issues throughout San Mateo County and engaging in city planning efforts in south county as relevant to healthy communities. My background is in city planning and public health, and I hold a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley. My research at UC Berkeley explored issues of environmental justice and land use in California’s Central Valley.

My research in the Central Valley is very personal for me, as I grew up in an unincorporated area of Stockton. This rural area has many environmental justice issues including water and air pollution, the lack of public transit, and concerns from housing developments located adjacent to environmental burdens. Studying inequity through sociology and demography led me to city planning through seeing inequity spatialized and reinforced with policies and government practices. While inequity and social justice were the two lenses that guided my perspective, the goal was always to conduct research that revealed the ways city planning could expand or limit resources and options for living healthier lives.

Now as a community health planner I am able to work with other government agencies, non-profit groups, and San Mateo County residents on housing stability in the County. Housing is a public health issue because where you live matters to your health. While I am only here for a few months, I am excited and optimistic about the work we can achieve to provide safe and affordable housing for all San Mateo County residents.

Please feel free to reach out to me at harata@smcgov.org!

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