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Southerners’ Biggest Concerns in 2022? Affordable Housing and Utilities

The Southern Economic Advancement Project recently conducted the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Community Needs survey to gauge the most pressing concerns of Southern families two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and their knowledge of how ARP funds are being used. 

Shockingly, the data reveals that 90 percent of Southerners have not been contacted by elected officials regarding their city or state’s ARP planning or spending progress. The data also shows that 77 percent of community members rely on social media to find state or city updates. 

 

Since a majority of local leaders have not reached out to understand their community’s needs, SEAP’s data will prove especially useful for local and state officials deciding how to allocate ARP resources. 

What are the three greatest challenges facing your community right now? 

Of all the Southerners surveyed, 55% say they are struggling to access affordable housing and 43% are struggling to pay utility bills.

When asked what they would like to see local and state leaders focus on in the future, a majority indicate they would like to see American Rescue Plan funds dedicated to improving affordable housing and decreasing utility costs.

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The third biggest concern was food accessibility as inflation rapidly increases basic food costs. 

 

The Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) conducted these surveys and created this report between November 2021 and March 2022.  They are continuing to track how ARP funds are deployed across the South and made the resource open to the public. 

The Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) is an organization acting as a connector, convener, and policy entrepreneur across issues and states, focusing on the Southern experience in order to improve economic security, healthcare access, and environmental justice for all Southerners.