A variety of commonly applied indicators were used to proxy capacity and social vulnerability of implementing communities and bought-out residents (including property owners and tenants) participating in FEMA-funded programs for voluntary buyouts of flood-prone properties. Socioeconomic and demographic data analyzed originate from the U.S. Census American Community Survey (https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs). From the American Community Survey, 5-year estimates over 2012–2016 were used for the following variables: income, education, racial diversity, population, population density, and household English language proficiency (operational definitions provided in captions for Fig. 5 and figs. S7 and S8) (24).

For buyouts administered by local government subgrantees (i.e., city or county governments), county-scale socioeconomic and demographic indicators were used to evaluate the capacity of the local government to apply for, receive, and administer federal funding. County-scale data could be systematically analyzed for all local government subgrantees, which is why this scale of analysis was applied. County-scale socioeconomic and demographic indicators were evaluated in absolute terms and also in relative terms, comparing each county to its respective state.

Within counties where local government has administered one or more buyout projects, the same socioeconomic and demographic characteristics were also evaluated at a finer ZCTA scale. This scale of analysis was applied to proxy the capacity and social vulnerability of neighborhoods and residents participating in buyout programs. ZCTA-scale indicators were similarly evaluated in absolute terms and also in relative terms, here comparing each ZCTA to the respective county.

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