Southerners want ... .

OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH

The Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) releases the first phase of results from its American Rescue Plan (ARP) Community Needs survey. The ARP was signed into law in 2021 to assist communities in recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Direct community feedback is the crux of ARP funds guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury, encouraging local leaders to place equity and public engagement at the forefront of spending plans.

REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

What do you think your community would look like if it built back better from covid-19?
"I would hope it would have a lot of social services available and along with easier [avenues] to get through to anyone regarding medical issues or utilities assistance, etc."
Why would you want money equitably invested in your community?
"I live in a rural area, and because of Covid, I would love to work from home. There isn’t a good internet service out here, so I could do that. I feel everyone should have access to internet service."
What would you like elected officials and community leaders to know about your concerns or funding requests?
"If the funds were sent towards affordable homes, there wouldn’t be a lot of people seeking help. The minimum wage went up, but that’s not enough for a single parent who has to pay $1500 for a two bed/two bath and has lights and gas separate."

Launched in November 2021, the SEAP surveyed more than 3,500 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi ( includes data from New Orleans, Louisiana) through the Propel application. SEAP’s findings revealed challenges for both individual residents and whole communities. Our team also gathered feedback on how respondents would like their local leaders to prioritize ARP funds in their communities.

SEAP launched the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Community Needs survey to gather feedback from residents across the 12 Southern states. The survey aims to identify challenges Southerners are experiencing as a result of the pandemic. SEAP’s goal is to bring in voices and ideas from local communities, especially those typically neglected.

SEAP developed this dashboard to collect real-time data tracking how local leaders are planning for and spending SLFRF funds.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Community Needs Survey gathered quotes from more than 3,500 SNAP recipients in AL, GA, MS, and NOLA that revealed ongoing pandemic challenges for individuals and communities.

WHAT THEY WANT VS. HOW LEADERS ARE SPENDING

SEAP’s ARP Local Funds Tracker provides data on spending choices for cities where leaders have made spending decisions. The tracker identifies and groups spending into 12 categories (public health, affordable housing, business support, general government, and others that align with the ARP requirements). Our interactive tool lets viewers see this information at the city and state levels. The team reviewed cities with populations of more than 20,000 in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. 

See highlights from each state below. Hover of the square to reveal how leaders are allocating funds to meet community wants/needs. You can access our tracker by clicking here.

53% of Alabama respondents say the ability to pay utilities is a top personal challenge.
SEAP tracks 16 Alabama cities, revealing that leaders have allocated $29 million toward housing support, of the $382 million they're receiving collectively.
View Alabama's Infographic
36% of Georgia respondents say reliable internet access is a top personal challenge.
SEAP tracks 26 Georgia cities, revealing that leaders have allocated $3 million toward broadband, out of the $576 million they're receiving collectively.
View Georgia's Infographic
52% of MS respondents say the ability to pay utilities is a top personal challenge.
SEAP tracks 16 Mississippi cities, revealing that leaders have allocated $0 toward housing assistance, out of the $100 million they're receiving collectively.
View Mississippi's Infographic

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