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New Low-Cost Internet Program Promotes Digital Equity in L.A.   – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

Supervisor Hilda Solis (Courtesy Photo)

Although it is one of the top technology centers in the nation, Los Angeles is home to a deep-rooted digital divide that has effectively cut off hundreds of thousands of Latinos from the tools and resources they need to improve their lives. Central to this divide is the high cost of home internet.

Although more than 60% of households in Los Angeles have access to broadband Internet, communities such as East Los Angeles, El Monte, and South El Monte have significantly lower rates than in the rest of the county or California.

At a time when working-class Latino families are just beginning to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic, they must now contend with rising household costs due to the highest inflation in 40 years. As a result, these families are forced to prioritize needs such as food and housing, leaving very little of their income for other bills.

For these households, access to cheap internet is not a luxury, but a critical commodity. Quality broadband at home means access to classes and other educational tools, job opportunities, telehealth services, financial resources, support networks and much more.

This growing gap in digital access is evident in District 1, where nearly 95,626 households have no internet at all. And while other families currently have some form of service, rising household costs combined with stagnant wages are making it increasingly difficult to cope with the high costs of monthly Internet bills.

Addressing digital capital is one of my top priorities. That’s why my fellow supervisors and I are working to ensure that all eligible households enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Through this federally funded initiative, qualifying families can save up to $30 per month on high-speed home Internet.

Even better: this discount can be used with other existing cheap internet programs, so your monthly internet bill could end up costing nothing. Those who qualify can also take advantage of a one-time rebate of up to $100 on the purchase of a computer or tablet from participating vendors.

The ACP was launched this year by the Federal Communications Commission to replace the 2021 Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which ended in December. Unlike its predecessor, ACP is designed as a more permanent program, so this benefit is expected to help households for four or more years.

Applying to ACP is as easy as possible with enrollment assistance in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. In addition, the program ensures that households in which at least one member is enrolled in programs such as Medi-Cal, CalFresh or Lifeline are automatically eligible.

ACP also provides the benefit to people who receive WIC benefits or have an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Current Pell Grant recipients and students receiving free and reduced-price school lunch will also be eligible.

If Los Angeles County wants to achieve true digital justice, we must all act. ACP is too valuable an opportunity to waste. If you or someone you know—a relative, neighbor, or friend—is struggling with the high cost of home Internet, I encourage you to call 866-420-2102 or visit http://internetforallnow.org/applytoday to get more information and start the application process.

New Low-Cost Internet Program Promotes Digital Equity in L.A.   – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link New Low-Cost Internet Program Promotes Digital Equity in L.A.   – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

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