Research Report Lessons for Increasing Inclusivity and Equity in Local Spending
A Look at How Three Metropolitan Regions are Prioritizing and Allocating COVID-19 Recovery Funds
Fay Walker, Becca Dedert, Karolina Ramos, Christina Plerhoples Stacy
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Local governments throughout the nation have received unprecedented levels of flexible federal funding to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Although past research suggests that inclusive decisionmaking processes can help local governments achieve an equitable and inclusive recovery from economic distress, about whether and how federal spending during previous recessions was allocated at the local level and how inclusive those processes were. To fill this gap, this report describes and assesses the process for deciding upon the use of early pandemic recovery funds (focused predominantly on the American Rescue Plan Act) in three metropolitan regions: Memphis, TN; Rochester, NY; and Chicago, IL. We find the following:

  • The City of Rochester and Monroe County followed different paths for the allocation of their federal recovery funds, with inconsistent patterns of community engagement and equity considerations across both.
  • Both the City of Memphis and Shelby County conducted a top-down approach to allocating federal recovery dollars, getting the money out quickly but without a robust community engagement strategy or equitable allocation process.
  • The City of Chicago conducted extensive outreach to community-based organizations but little direct outreach to community members, while Cook County took a more intensive approach to individual level engagement.
Research Areas Neighborhoods, cities, and metros State and local finance Taxes and budgets
Policy Centers Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center
Research Methods Data analysis Data collection Qualitative data analysis
States Illinois New York Tennessee
Cities Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Memphis, TN-MS-AR Rochester, NY