According to 2019 United States Census data, the median annual household income in the State of California is $80,440. The estimated annual household income in Los Angeles County is $72,797, yet more than 1.1 million households have incomes totaling less than $50,000. In some cities and communities within the County, more than 50% of all households have incomes below $50,000 (See maps). Additionally, 2019 Census data estimates that 5.5% of households in Los Angeles County do not have a computer and 11.9% lack a broadband internet subscription. These households are disproportionately located in low income areas and the populations are predominately Black and Latino.
Impact of COVID-19The COVID-19 pandemic illuminated the severity of the digital divide within Los Angeles County. Due to physical distancing requirements, constituents experienced a greater dependency on technology to perform daily and routine activities. The sudden and large-scale transition to a virtual environment brought in clear view the vast disparities in access to information and communication technologies within underserved communities. A computer and reliable internet service are essential to accessing education, employment opportunities, healthcare services, financial resources, support networks, and commerce. Still, hundreds of thousands of constituents continue to experience hardships due to technological barriers.
Major initiatives are underway to provide computer devices and internet access to underserved communities. These are necessary and critical steps to bridging the digital divide. However, equally important is the knowledge and awareness of how to effectively use and navigate the resources available through technology. The combination of access and awareness can expand opportunities for growth, achievement and advancement among disadvantaged populations.
On October 27, 2020, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion titled Empowerment Program to Address the Digital Divide in Underserved Communities. This motion establishes a program to empower youth and small businesses in underserved communities that are adversely impacted by the digital divide. Delete The Divide is the result of this progressive Board action.