CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, April 19, 2024


April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024 

The Affordable Connectivity Program edition. One of the 21st century’s many enduring racial and class barriers is the digital divide. As of 2021, Black and Latino adults were almost twice as likely as White adults to lack broadband access. For many, whether you have access to high-speed internet too often depends on the color of your skin or the zip code in which you live – both strongly correlated with poverty. 

By the end of 2021, however, things began to change. Congress and President Biden created the Affordable Connectivity Program, which would become the largest internet affordability program in U.S. history and one that has especially benefited Blacks, Latinos, rural residents, and people living on Tribal lands. 

The way the ACP works is pretty simple. It is a $14.2 billion program that assists eligible low-income households struggling to afford monthly internet service. Participants receive a discount of up to $30 a month to pay for internet service and up to $75 a month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. 

One in every six households in America now benefits from the program. The ACP ensures that households have the connections they need for work, school, health care, and more. 

But money for ACP will run out next month unless Congress acts, and millions of people with low incomes will lose access to the internet. A bipartisan measure to extend funding for the program has been introduced in the House (H.R. 6929), and a whopping 227 House members – including 20 Republicans — have signed on as cosponsors, a clear majority. But House Speaker Mike Johnson has failed to bring it to a vote, and, although also introduced by Senator Peter Welch (D-VT), it hasn’t seen action in the Senate yet either. 

Access to the internet should not be a function of the color of one’s skin or the zip code where one lives or the size of one’s bank account. More than 70,000 CHN supporters already have written Congress to demand that funding for the ACP be extended. You can join them here. 

>23 million


More than 23 million households – about 1 in 6 households in the U.S. — benefit from the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Tweet this



In Louisiana, 32% of households benefit from the ACP; in Kentucky, 26%; and in Michigan, Nevada, New York, and Ohio, 24% benefit from the program. Tweet this.




The percentage of households that benefit from ACP in House Speaker Mike Johnson’s home congressional district, Louisiana’s 4th CD. Tweet this.


1 in 4


Among households participating in the ACP, 1 in 4 are Black and 1 in 4 are Latino. Tweet this.




Among December 2023 survey respondents, 72% of ACP beneficiaries said they used the ACP to schedule or attend health care appointments. Another 48% said they used it to apply for jobs or complete work. And 75% of respondents aged 18-24 said they used it to do schoolwork. Tweet this.




The same survey found that more than two-thirds of respondents said they had inconsistent connectivity or no connectivity at all before the ACP.




And the survey found that more than three-quarters of respondents said losing their ACP benefit would disrupt their service by making them change their plan or drop internet service entirely.




The number of households on Tribal lands that receive an enhanced monthly ACP subsidy. High-speed internet on Tribal lands tends to be more expensive.




During the first year of the pandemic, when in-person learning was halted for almost all students, 15-16 million students lacked either adequate internet or devices to sustain effective distance learning at home. That’s roughly 30% of the overall population of 50 million K-12 students. Of those 15-16 million, 9 million lacked both adequate internet and devices.




Of all telehealth visits in 2021, 44% were related to chronic conditions, which are more prevalent in low-income areas. Telehealth services are particularly important for people of color and people with chronic illnesses.