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Great Divide: L.A. Equity Index

Interactive online tool from L.A. Controller Ron Galperin

OW Staff Writer | 11/19/2020, 4 a.m.
Interactive, online tool measuring structural disparities and barriers to opportunity in the City of Los Angeles...
LA Equity Index LA Controller

L.A. Controller Ron Galperin recently released an interactive, online tool measuring structural disparities and barriers to opportunity in the City of Los Angeles. Through a series of maps, the L.A. Equity Index allows Angelenos to explore how a number of socioeconomic factors — including housing costs, educational achievement, environmental challenges and access to resources, like health insurance, food and high-speed internet — impact people’s lives and livelihoods in each neighborhood, and shows that some neighborhoods are impacted far more severely than others.

The Equity Index scores each census tract in the City on a scale of 1 to 10. A lower score (darker colors) indicates areas where residents experience less equity and opportunity; a higher score (lighter colors) means an area with more equity and opportunity for Angelenos.

Users can enter their address on the Equity Index to find their census tract and learn more about the population and challenges facing the area.

“Los Angeles is home to four million residents living in more than 100 neighborhoods,” said Controller Galperin. “It is incredibly geographically, demographically and economically diverse, but there is a great equity divide. Too many neighborhoods face barriers to opportunity that negatively impact the people who live there, many of whom are people of color and immigrant families.”

The index brings together hundreds of data points to evaluate the level of equity in neighborhoods across the City. The indicators examined are rent burden, poverty level, home ownership, air quality, closeness to toxic releases, proximity to traffic and education level; and access to internet, food and health insurance. Dozens of additional variables are also considered, including ethnic makeup and median income, which also inform the final results.

Some facts about equity in L.A. revealed by Controller Galperin’s Index:

-Neighborhoods in South and East L.A. score lowest on the Equity Index. These areas are home to more rent burdened individuals, greater poverty, more environmental concerns and access to fewer resources.

-Neighborhoods in West L.A. and the West San Fernando Valley score highest on the Equity Index. These areas include more homeowners, higher income levels, better air quality and more education achievement, among other things.

-Adults without a high school diploma are twice as likely to live in poverty as those who graduate.

-Predominantly Latino communities are twice as likely to lack health insurance as mostly white communities.

-The average Encino resident earns almost three times as much as the average Boyle Heights resident.

-Nearly 40 percent of local families made under 200% of the federal poverty level in 2018, equivalent to just $50,200 for a family of four.

“The L.A. Equity Index gives policymakers and all Angelenos a more comprehensive understanding of community issues that can drive data-informed decisions to improve neighborhoods and lives,” said Galperin. “To bridge the divide, Los Angeles needs to do better and invest smarter in the communities that need it most."