LOS ANGELES, CA – The Board of Supervisors today approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, to develop a digital divide regional strategic plan for Los Angeles County.
“The digital divide has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic as workplaces and schools have shut down and forced residents to learn and work from home,” said Chair Solis. “Unfortunately, many families in communities of color lack the appropriate technology and are at a severe disadvantage to effectively learn and work remotely. This also impacts their abilities to use County digital services to obtain critical safety net resources such as housing, food assistance, and telehealth – including making an appointment to obtain the vaccine against COVID-19. The County has made strides to reduce the digital divide, but those efforts have been siloed among County departments and often duplicative. The passage of today’s motion will provide a framework so that we can ensure equitable broadband access, devices and digital literacy for all residents.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made us acutely aware of the severe and damaging consequences of the digital divide,” said Supervisor Kuehl. “Nearly 12% of our LA County households do not have access to the internet, and, when workplaces and schools shut down, it became difficult, if not impossible, for many employees to do their jobs from home or for students to connect to their schools. LA County is taking steps to ensure that all of our residents have access to reliable broadband service, because access to broadband, like access to water or power, are critical services without which many people cannot participate in the basic and necessary activities of contemporary life.”
The 2019 census data estimates that 5.5% of households do not have a computer or internet access, and 11.9% lack a broadband internet subscription. This contributes to and perpetuates long-standing socio-economic inequalities that directly impacts housing stability, access to health and mental health services, and educational attainment.
The passage of today’s motion directs County departments to develop and implement an approach for equitable broadband access, devices, and digital literacy for County residents by assessing internal efforts to identify gaps and determine how to best consolidate and direct these resources.
The motion also calls for the development of a comprehensive regional strategy to leverage resources beyond the County, to ensure sustainable solutions. This regional strategy will require working with a consultant to engage external stakeholders, including cities, the private sector, academia, nonprofits, community-based organizations, school districts, and philanthropy.
To view the motion, click here.
CONTACT: Kimberly Ortega, Acting Communications Director, (213) 361-6435 or KOrtega@bos.lacounty.gov