Data and Methods

This document outlines the methodology that the Bay Area Equity Atlas developed and used to conduct this research as well as the sources for the data included in the Bay Area Recovery Dollars Tracker.

Background on the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds

In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) established the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program to provide state, local, and tribal governments with resources to support their pandemic response efforts and ensure an equitable economic recovery. SLFRF dollars were distributed to local governments through the US Department of the Treasury (US Treasury), and jurisdictions have been encouraged through the US Treasury’s interim and final rule to target resources to the communities of color, tribal communities, and low-income communities disproportionately negatively impacted by the pandemic, while also “addressing the systemic public health and economic challenges that may have contributed to more severe impacts of the pandemic among low-income communities and people of color.”

Local governments are allowed to use SLFRF funds to:

  • Replace lost public sector revenue: Provide government services up to the amount of revenue lost due to the pandemic

  • Respond to the far-reaching public health and negative economic impacts of the pandemic: Support the health of communities and assist households, small businesses, impacted industries, nonprofits, and the public sector in recovering from the pandemic’s economic impacts

  • Provide premium pay for essential workers: Offer additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical sectors

  • Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure: Make necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and expand affordable access to broadband internet

Within each of these four allowable categories of uses, jurisdictions can exercise flexibility in how they allocate SLFRF dollars. The first tranche of dollars was distributed in May 2021 and the second tranche was distributed in May 2022. Cities and counties have until December 31, 2024, to obligate their SLFRF dollars; they are required to expend them by December 31, 2026.

A note about other ARPA funds: Local governments also received other resources (such as the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and the Homeowner Assistance Fund) through ARPA, but this project focuses specifically on tracking SLFRF funds because they provided flexible resources for jurisdictions to respond to Covid-19.

Bay Area Recovery Dollars Tracker

The data that undergirds the Bay Area Recovery Dollars Tracker comes from the US Treasury’s reports on the projects and expenditures of SLFRF recipients. SLFRF recipients are organized into five tiers. Jurisdictions with populations greater than 250,000 residents and metropolitan cities and counties with populations less than 250,000 residents that were allocated more than $10 million (Tier 1 and 2 jurisdictions) are required to submit quarterly project and expenditure reports to the US Treasury that detail the use of their dollars. Jurisdictions with populations below 250,000 residents that were allocated less than $10 million (Tier 5 jurisdictions) are only required to submit annual project and expenditure reports. The aggregate dataset of those reports is published on the US Treasury website. Using the most current data available from the US Treasury, this tool shows how Bay Area jurisdictions have deployed SLFRF dollars across the region to date. This initial version of the dashboard and analysis uses data from the latest report available, which captures spending decisions through September 30, 2022. The dashboard was last updated on September 20, 2023 — and it reflects US Treasury reporting data through March 31, 2023. We will continue updating the tracker and other related resources on an ongoing basis as new reports are released. 

Dashboard Geographies

As of April 2023, there are 103 jurisdictions in the Bay Area represented within the US Treasury’s project and expenditure reports (8 counties, 94 large cities, and the combined city and county of San Francisco). This data update includes Tier 5 jurisdictions which were not included in the previous reporting datasets. Tier 5 jurisdictions are localities with a population below 250,000 residents. Localities within this tier received less than $10 million in SLFRF funding. Since these jurisdictions were not required to disclose the amount budgeted for each SLFRF project, we relied on the total cumulative obligation to determine the amount obligated.


The dashboard includes three key sections:

  1. An overview of the share and total dollars allocated by category; data on median earnings and the diversity of electeds by race/ethnicity for the population; and a summary of the process that jurisdictions took to support their funding decisions, as reported in the performance reports submitted to the US Treasury and in published materials on the jurisdictions’ websites

  2. A detailed list of projects and the total amounts allocated to each of them by expenditure category

  3. A map displaying the total share of SLFRF dollars that have been obligated by expenditure category

Classification of Expenditure Categories

The dashboard aims to dig deeper into how dollars were allocated by assigning projects to more detailed expenditure categories (defined below) that provide greater insight into whether those dollars were leveraged for uses that are intended to prioritize equitable outcomes.

To analyze the data submitted by jurisdictions to the US Treasury in a uniform approach across Bay Area cities and counties, we tried to make consistent, qualitative decisions about how local projects fit into various categories. This alignment process required interpreting the information presented by jurisdictions in their project descriptions and coding them in a way that allows us to make consistent comparisons across geographies.

We assigned projects to expenditure categories based on project descriptions. We also highlighted some expenditure categories as a “targeted equity investment area” for projects that primarily focus on supporting specific communities and groups disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and structural racism, including low-income communities, people of color, formerly incarcerated people, undocumented immigrants, refugees, and entrepreneurs of color.

Projects do not always fit neatly into one single category. However, in the interest of comparability, we assigned the best-fit category for each project based on the Treasury’s categories, our interpretation of the project description, and input from members of our advisory group.

Process Description

The information displayed on the dashboard about the decision-making process for spending SLFRF dollars is based on the most recent Recovery Plan Performance Reports. These annual reports provide information on the projects and how they “ensure program outcomes are achieved in an effective, efficient, and equitable manner.” They also include information on the equity considerations and community engagement processes jurisdictions used to select and approve SLFRF projects.

Only jurisdictions with populations greater than 250,000 residents are required to submit these annual reports, and each jurisdiction is required to make its quarterly and annual performance reports publicly available. However, not every jurisdiction has the most up-to-date report on its website. For jurisdictions without a report that describes the fund obligation process publicly available or those not required to submit a report, the Bay Area Equity Atlas reached out directly to city or county staff to request a copy of the latest performance report or an on-the-record comment about the jurisdiction’s community engagement process. Through this outreach, we contacted 23 jurisdictions. Some entries are based on materials available on the local government website or responses from direct email correspondence with a city or county official.

2022 Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Performance Reports Reviewed:

Jurisdictions Contacted:

  • Alameda City

  • Albany City

  • Berkeley City

  • Concord City*

  • Dublin City

  • Fairfield City

  • Fremont City*

  • Gilroy City

  • Hayward City

  • Livermore City

  • Milpitas City

  • Mountain View City*

  • Napa City

  • Napa County

  • Novato City

  • Palo Alto City*

  • Redwood City

  • Richmond City*

  • San Leandro City

  • San Mateo City*

  • San Rafael City*

  • San Ramon City

  • Sunnyvale City*

*Denotes jurisdictions that have commented on their community engagement process or that have allocated all their SLFRF funding toward revenue replacement.