Houston-Galveston Area Council Newsletter        April 2020
March Board of Directors Meeting
The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Board of Directors meeting was held on March 17 via teleconference.

The board approved a resolution recognizing  National Fair Housing Month in April . This year marks the 52nd anniversary of the National Fair Housing Act of 1968. During March's meeting, the board appointed Walker County Judge Danny Pierce as the region's representative to the state's Community Development Unified Scoring Committee. The Unified Scoring Committee, which serves under the Texas Department of Agriculture, develops objective scoring factors used to prioritize grant applications .

The board also voted to continue purchase of business and residential data from Infogroup. H-GAC and members of the Geographic Data Workgroup use this data for various mapping activities. Local agencies, such as the Greater Harris County 9-1-1 Emergency Network and the Gulf Coast Regional 9-1-1 Emergency Communications District, also rely heavily on data obtained from Infogroup to maintain accurate and up-to-date address lists. During the monthly H-GAC spotlight, the board listened to a presentation from Todd Running, H-GAC water resources manager, about the agency's current efforts toward bacteria reduction in our waterways.

The next board of directors meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., April 21, 2020 . If there are any scheduling or location updates to this meeting, we will notify the public immediately. For more information on H-GAC's board of directors, past meeting agendas or minutes, or to find dates for future meetings ,  visit H-GAC's website.
The 2020 Census is Here!
The 2020 Census is here! Every 10 years, the census counts how many people are in our community to decide how much federal funding and representation we should receive. Invitations to take the census have been distributed to households by mail. The nine questions will decide how federal funds are distributed to communities across the nation over the next decade. It will also decide how representation will be distributed based on population.

A complete and accurate census count is critical. Census results show where communities need new schools, clinics, roads and other services benefiting families, older adults and children. They help decide federal funding for disaster recovery, mental health services, medical benefits programs, education programs and much more. When you’re counted in the census, you’re helping to build a better community and a stronger Gulf Coast region.  

As required by law, responses to the census are completely confidential and cannot be shared with anyone. Completing the census is easy! Fill yours out in 10 minutes or less to claim the most for your community. The census can be completed in over 13 languages online, by phone, or by mail.

Visit 2020census.gov to learn more about the 2020 Census. Say YES to Census 2020, and help us shape the next 10 years for the Gulf Coast region. You deserved to be counted!
Economic Assistance Available for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
The Texas Small Business Administration is accepting disaster relief applications from small businesses and private non-profits that have been economically impacted by COVID-19. The Houston-Galveston Area Local Development Corporation (H-GALDC) also has resources available for small businesses in the Houston-Galveston region.

Emergency Economy Injury Grants and Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The Small Business Administration is offering emergency economic injury grants and economic injury disaster loans (EIDLs) for Texas for-profit small businesses and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees to overcome temporary loss of revenue due to COVID-19.

The grant provides an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits within three days of applying for an EIDL. The EIDL loan provides up to $2 million in assistance to help businesses meet payroll, rent/mortgage, utilities, and other expenses incurred during or due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information and to apply, visit www.SBA.gov/disaster .

Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program is another program by the Small Business Administration that provides cash-flow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses impacted by COVID-19 between Feb. 15 and June 30, 2020, may have eight weeks of payroll forgiven if they maintain their payroll. Additional expenses, such as rent/mortgage (interest only), utilities, and other expenses during this eight-week period, may also be forgiven.

Any additional expenses outside the eight-week period are structured into a loan repayment plan with a 10-year term and interest rates of no more than 4%. The maximum loan size is equal to 250% of a business' average monthly payroll costs between Feb. 15 and June 30, 2019, and must not exceed $10 million.

Contact any authorized SBA 7(a) lender for more information and application instructions.
Bridge Loans Available via H-GALDC

Businesses applying for an EIDL may have to wait six to eight weeks before their loan is approved through the Small Business Administration.

Those businesses may apply with the H-GALDC for immediate acces to capital of up to $25,000 to help with costs related to COVID-19. The bridge loan may be paid back once approved for the EIDL. Visit hgaldc.com/business-loan.aspx for more information or to apply.

Coming Soon! Harris County COVID-19 Forgivable Loan Program

In partnership with H-GALDC, Harris County is establishing a $10 million-backed loan program to help area small businesses economically impacted by COVID-19 stay open and meet necessary operating expenses. These zero-interest loans will be up to $25,000 each with a five-year term and a loan forgiveness component. The loan terms include:

  • Up to $25,000 per loan
  • 0% interest
  • Five-year terms
  • Three-month grace period
  • 100% of loan forgiven after five years pending program compliance
  • Option of applying loan forgiveness proceeds to tax bill
  • No prepayment penalty

To qualify for a loan, small businesses will have to meet the following requirements:

  • Located in Harris County
  • In business prior to Jan. 1, 2019
  • Property taxes in good standing with Harris County Tax Office
  • Proof of negative revenue impact by COVID-19
  • Less than $15 million net revenue
  • Average net income of $5 million or less

Visit HGALDC.com for the latest updates to the program.
H-GAC Recognizes April as Fair Housing Month
Multi-colored ribbon with the words Fair Housing Awareness below
H-GAC recognizes April as Fair Housing Month and reminds homebuyers and renters to be aware of their rights under the Fair Housing Act.

More than 50 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 into law, prohibiting discrimination in housing. The Fair Housing Act (Title VII of that law) prohibits discrimination in housing because of race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. The act applies to rental properties, properties for sale, and mortgage lending.

For more information about Fair Housing Month, view our news release .

Additional information regarding the Fair Housing Act can be found on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website at www.hud.gov/fairhousing .
Commute Solutions Launches New Website Aimed at Teleworking
Commute Solutions, a service of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, recently launched a new website, YourCommuteSolution.org, aimed at helping employers navigate through the logistics of implementing telework programs; sharing resources and best practices for employees new to telework; and providing tools and resources for residents and businesses in the Houston-Galveston region seeking sustainable commute options - such as teleworking, bicycling, walking, vanpool, or public transit.

For employers implementing or seeking to improve existing telework programs, the website includes guidelines and best practices on strengthening telework programs and optimizing productivity; sample telework plans and agreements; and facts and statistics about the impact of telework programs. For more information, view our news release online or email CommuteSolutions@h-gac.com .
Workforce Solutions Continues Operations Remotely
Though Workforce Solutions physical offices are currently closed to the public, all staff continue to be available by phone and email during regular business hours to provide job search assistance and answer questions about unemployment benefits.

For more information on how to get in touch with Workforce Solutions service teams, view our online news release or call 1-888-469-JOBS (5627).
New Speaker! Brown Bag Lunch Event Featuring Jamila Owens with H-GAC Travel Demand Management Takes Place on April 13
Did you know the average commute in our region is 23 miles each way? This means a person who telecommutes can save $3,000 a year based on the IRS reimbursement rate of $0.575 per mile, and even more for longer commutes. 

The next Brown Bag Lunch Series event features Jamila Owens, manager of the Travel Demand Management program for the Houston-Galveston Area Council. Jamila will discuss the benefits of teleworking, provide a snapshot of teleworking in our region, and share best practices for both employees and employers.

Join us at noon, April 13, 2020, as Jamila discusses teleworking in the age of COVID-19 and beyond.

To register for the Zoom webinar, please click here .
Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable on April 28
Bringing Back Main Street Logo
H-GAC's next Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable will cover "Remaining Economically Competitive." The roundtable, which takes place from 10 to 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 28, will be presented as a webinar.

H-GAC hosts quarterly roundtables to help local governments, chambers of commerce, and economic development interests to promote the economic revitalization of downtown areas.

Registration for the webinar is required. For more information, contact Cheryl Mergo at 713-993-4520.
H-GAC Hosted Transportation Improvement Program Public Meetings on March 5
The Houston-Galveston Area Council held two public meetings on March 5 to discuss upcoming projects in the 2021-2024 segment of the Transportation Improvement Program. Representatives from the agency presented an overview of the infrastructural improvement projects to be implemented over the next four years and opened the floor to public comments. Attendees were also able to review the projects individually and meet with representatives from H-GAC and the Texas Department of Transportation to ask questions.

The projects in the 2021-2024 Transportation Improvement Program cover several areas of transportation - including transit, bicyclist and pedestrian, highway, and air quality improvements - across the entire Greater Houston region. Among these projects are shared use lanes in the Galleria, a new roundabout intersection on Navigation in East Downtown (EaDo), hiking trails and bikeways in League City, and a new bus fleet maintenance facility in Conroe.

Members of the public can view the full list of projects at hgac.com/transportation-improvement-program . The public comment period has been extended to April 15. Comments can be submitted online , by mail , or emailed to publiccomments@h-gac.com . After the comment period closes, the final draft project listings and response to public comments will be brought to the Transportation Policy Council for review and final action.
H-GAC Solid Waste Grants Applications Due April 16
Recycle bins on the curb
Solid waste grants help fund projects such as community cleanup events, curbside recycling programs, construction of new recycling facilities, electronics and hazardous waste collection events, local environmental enforcement programs, public education and outreach, school recycling education, storm debris planning projects, and upgrades to existing recycling centers and equipment. H-GAC will be awarding more than $200,000 in solid waste program grant funds to eligible projects. Grant applications are due at noon, Thursday, April 16.

City and county governments, school districts, councils of government, and certain general and law districts within H-GAC's 13-county Gulf Coast planning region are all eligible to apply for a solid waste grant.

For more information about the grant program or to be added to an email list to receive future solid waste grant notifications, visit www.h-gac.com/solid-waste-management/grants.aspx , or contact Erin Livingston at 832-681-2525.
H-GAC is Hiring
Home to more than 7 million people, the Houston-Galveston region is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse regions in the country. Making sure the region remains one of the nation’s leading places to live, work, and prosper doesn’t just happen—it takes planning and partnerships.

If you are looking for a career where you can help make a difference in urban, suburban, and rural communities, the Houston-Galveston Area Council has exciting opportunities for you. For more information or to apply for a job, visit the careers page on H-GAC's website .