Oakland Community Stressor Index

Oakland Community Stressor Index


City of Oakland Human Services Department 


In 2019, the Oakland Human Services Department (HSD) contracted RDA to update its Community Stressors Index, which provides a snapshot of multiple risk factors on community stress. The index captures 21 stressor indicators across a range of domains, including health and environment, housing, education, and criminal justice system involvement.


In identifying and prioritizing stress indicators to include in the Oakland Stressors Index, HSD and RDA sought indicators for which credible, reliable data could feasibly be obtained and for which there was strong evidence of the indicator’s high impact on community stress. Equally important, we prioritized indicators that could meaningfully inform City of Oakland strategies, priorities, or programming. Once indicators were selected, RDA analyzed administrative and secondary data from a wide variety of local and national sources. For each census tract within Oakland, RDA calculated a z-score for each stressor indicator where data were available. A z-score measures how far away a data point is from the overall average. A positive z-score indicates that the census tract had an estimate that is higher (i.e., more stressed) than the average across all census tracts, while a negative z-score indicates that the census tract had an estimate that is lower (i.e., less stressed) than the overall average. To calculate the cumulative effect of all indicators, RDA averaged z-scores across all indicators to obtain a cumulative average z-score for each individual census tract. The cumulative average z-score was then used to rank the census tracts according to their cumulative level of stress.


This rank helps HSD and its stakeholders to understand the relative levels of community stress across the City of Oakland. To aid the City in widely disseminating this information to a variety of audiences, RDA developed an interactive Community Stressors Map with accompanying methodological notes, both of which are now publicly available on the City of Oakland’s website. Through this project, RDA has equipped the City of Oakland to develop data-driven decisions and strategic planning for place-based interventions and allocation of resources.


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