Houston-Galveston Area Council Newsletter    April 2021
March Board of Directors Meeting
At its meeting on Tuesday, March 16, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Board of Directors approved several items of regional significance.

The board authorized a new Livable Centers study for the Brays Oaks Management District, supplemental funding to conduct safety audits of high-risk intersections throughout the region, and an update to the Regional Goods Movement Plan, the agency's long-term plan to reduce congestion and improve freight mobility and safety in the region. It also adopted a resolution recognizing April as Fair Housing Month.

Additionally, the board approved the Gulf Coast Workforce Board's 2021-24 Local Plan and the Regional Conservation Framework. The Local Plan sets the strategic direction of Workforce Solutions and the Gulf Coast Workforce Board's investments to meet the needs of employers for skilled workers as well as develop the region's pool of human talent. The Regional Conservation Framework presents an overall vision of how H-GAC can work with partners and stakeholders to conserve the region's natural resources that help improve air quality, mitigate flooding, and improve quality of life. Strategies outlined in the framework include supporting local efforts through partnerships, leveraging existing programs, and securing funding through grants, matchmaking, and other innovative tools.

The board approved H-GAC to partner with Fort Bend Transit and the Houston Downtown Management District on a pilot program that would connect the region's most populous suburban county with its largest employment center. The pilot is a new commuter bus service that would operate along the I-69 corridor, connecting Fort Bend County residents to Downtown Houston. It is expected to launch in early 2022 and would run during peak morning and afternoon hours, include a limited midday service, and provide a Guaranteed Ride Home service to fully assure riders of reliable transportation.

Towards the end of the meeting, the board approved new appointments to the board of the Corporation for Regional Excellence, the nonprofit arm of H-GAC. Click here for the full list of nominees.
Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, April 20

The next board of directors meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, April 20. 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 the Board of Directors website.
H-GAC Program Spotlight: Solid Waste Grants
At its March meeting, the H-GAC Board of Directors recognized the Solid Waste Program. The Solid Waste Program reviews applications for landfill permits and solid waste grants. As the state designated planning agency for solid waste management issues in the region, H-GAC provides technical assistance to local governments on solid waste issues, as well as continuing education opportunities for local governments and solid waste professionals.

During the Texas legislative session, H-GAC is submitting the Regional Solid Waste Grants Program funding report showcasing the impacts and achievements solid waste grant funds have had on the region and the state. The report is submitted on behalf of the Texas Association of Regional Councils (TARC) and all 24 councils of governments in Texas. The report covers the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.
Program Contact: Erin Livingston

Title: Principal Planner
Years at H-GAC: 12
Contact Email: Erin.Livingston@h-gac.com
Contact Phone: 832-681-2525
According to the report, more than $6.1 million in grants were issued funding solid waste programs, partnerships, and initiatives statewide. With these funds:
  • Partners collected enough leftover paint to trace a one-inch line around Texas 23 times.
  • 1.25 million pounds of used electronics were collected for recycling.
  • 21 million pounds of waste were removed from illegal dumping sites.
  • More than 213,000 tires were collected. When stacked together, they would be taller than the height of 511 Texas Capitol buildings.
  • More than 14 million pounds of trash and recyclables were collected at cleanup events, equivalent to the weight of more than 16,000 Texas longhorn cattle.
  • Grantees diverted 17 million pounds of recyclables from landfills, enough to cover 29 football fields with one foot of recyclables.
  • Almost 98,000 Texas students attend a school district with a grant-funded recycling program, and grantees were able to reach almost 40,000 Texans through mass media activities.

The full report has been posted on the TARC Municipal Solid Waste Programs page. For more information about the Solid Waste Program, including grant opportunities, visit h-gac.com/solid-waste-management.
H-GAC to Host Virtual Public Meetings on April 8 to Discuss Regional Transportation Plan and Conformity Updates
H-GAC will hold two virtual public meetings on Thursday, April 8 to discuss proposed amendments to the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan. Additionally, H-GAC will provide updates on our process to maintain conformity with state and federal air quality goals.

There will be an afternoon meeting from 2-3 p.m. and an evening meeting from 6-7 p.m. H-GAC experts will present the main topics, after which attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and make public comments.

Both meetings will be held online via Zoom with dial in by phone options. The public comment period for these topics is open now until April 28. For more information about the meetings and submitting public comments, visit 2045rtp.com/virtual-meeting.aspx.
H-GAC Seeks Community Input on Transportation Studies in Southeast Harris County, Liberty County, and Montgomery County Precinct 2 at Upcoming Public Meetings
H-GAC invites residents living or working in the areas of Southeast Harris County, Montgomery County Precinct 2, and Liberty County to a series of virtual public meetings beginning on April 15. H-GAC is conducting transportation studies in these areas and is seeking public input.

These meetings are your opportunity to tell us about your issues and needs to make your community's transportation network safer, stronger, better connected, and more accessible to everyone. H-GAC experts will present the studies, after which attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and make public comments. Each meeting will cover a different study area:

The meetings will be held online via Zoom with dial in by phone options. Register to attend at engage.h-gac.com. The public comment period for these topics opens on April 15 and will close on May 13.
TML Region 14 Spring Meeting Will Take Place April 16
Join us for the Texas Municipal League Region 14 spring meeting from 10-11:30 a.m., Friday, April 16. Attendees will receive a legislative update and discuss the impact of new legislation on the region's municipalities. The featured guest speaker will be Ross Ramsey, executive editor of the Texas Tribune.

The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom. Click here to register, and you will receive a confirmation email with your unique login information. Please note that you will be sent to a waiting room prior to the start of the meeting.

For more information, contact Cynthia Jones at cynthia.jones@h-gac.com or 713-993-4591.
Save the Date for 2021 Newly Elected Officials Workshop

Please mark your calendars for the 2021 Newly Elected Officials Workshop scheduled for Wednesday, June 23. Additional workshop details and registration information will follow in the coming weeks.
April is Fair Housing Month
April is Fair Housing Month, and H-GAC reminds everyone that when it comes to housing, the Federal Fair Housing Act makes it against the law to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or family status. This applies to both selling or renting housing.

Anyone who feels their fair housing rights have been violated should contact the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777. For more information, visit www.hud.gov/fairhousing

The Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs are partnering to recognize Fair Housing Month in April with a series of fair housing training webinars. For more information, email FHEOI@tdhca.state.tx.us

Fair housing and reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities will be a topic of discussion during H-GAC's Bringing Back Main Street roundtable on Tuesday, April 27.  
Job Opportunities for Young Adults Ages 16 and Up
Young adults ages 16 and older seeking job opportunities can sign up for alerts about new postings, hiring events, and job search seminars straight to their phones. Text "#GetPaid2021" to 40691 to start receiving alerts.

For more information, visit the Workforce Solutions Young Adult Services or email jobs@wrksolutions.com. For a full list of active job openings available to workers of all ages, visit Workforce Solutions' Jobs Now web page.
Jamila Owens Discusses The Future of Teleworking with Houston Public Media on 'Houston Matters' Radio Show
H-GAC's Jamila Owens, Commute Solutions program manager, discussed the results of the group's Regional Employer Survey - which evaluated the impact of COVID-19 on worksites - and the future of telework on a recent broadcast of the Houston Public Media radio show 'Houston Matters with Craig Cohen.'

Listen to the full segment here. To view the full report of the Regional Employer Survey, go to datalab.h-gac.com/employersurvey/. The report is best viewed in Microsoft Edge.
Livable Centers to To Host Call for Study Sponsors Pre-Submittal Meeting on April 15
H-GAC's call for study sponsors for the Livable Centers program is now open. Sponsors are limited to local governments or other eligible entities. 

H-GAC seeks to identify and fund Full Livable Centers studies and, for the first time, Focused Livable Centers studies. Full Livable Centers studies will be scaled at a community level. Focused Livable Centers studies will focus on a smaller geographic area and/or specific issue (e.g., transit-oriented development, first/last mile connections).

This is not a request for proposals from consulting firms.
The objectives of the Livable Centers planning studies are to:
  • Help create quality, walkable, mixed-use places
  • Create multimodal travel choices
  • Improve environmental quality
  • Promote economic development and housing choice 

Interested sponsors are encouraged to attend a pre-submittal meeting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 15, for an explanation of the application process. 

The event will be online, and registration is required.

More information about deadlines, specific application content, and pre-proposal meetings will be available on the H-GAC Livable Centers website. For questions, please email LivableCenters@h-gac.com.
H-GAC Completes Regional Conservation Framework
H-GAC recently completed its Regional Conservation Framework, a high-level strategy to coordinate and magnify local conservation efforts to enhance our resiliency and the quality of life in our region's communities.

Funded by the Houston Endowment, the project team developed this framework using input from leaders across the region through survey responses, listening sessions, and meetings over the past year. The H-GAC Board of Directors adopted a resolution supporting the Regional Conservation Framework at its March meeting.

In addition to the framework, there are several helpful tools available on the Regional Conservation Program website, including:

For more information, contact Cheryl Mergo.  
Virtual Trash Bash Removes More Than 10,000 Pounds of Trash from Galveston Bay Watershed
The Texas Conservation Fund's 27th annual River, Lakes, Bays 'N Bayous Trash Bash® was held March 25-28, as a reimagined "Backyard to Bay" cleanup to protect the health and safety of participants and their families.

On March 31, more than 730 volunteers reported holding personal cleanups in their neighborhoods, collectively removing 10,402 pounds of trash from the Galveston Bay watershed. 

Thanks so much to everyone who participated, and we hope to welcome everyone back in person next year.
Trash Free Texas Initiative Launches Newsletter
In March, the Trash Free Texas initiative launched the first issue of its monthly news and updates newsletter

The newsletter will offer more information about Trash Free Texas, an initiative by H-GAC and partners aimed at reducing or eliminating litter along area waterways. It will also feature litter reduction efforts from our partners across the region.

Join our mailing list if you are interested in receiving this monthly update or sharing news about your litter reduction activities. 
HGACBuy Hosting Virtual Open Houses throughout 2021
The HGACBuy Cooperative Purchasing Program is hosting several free virtual open houses in 2021. Vendors and members will be able to meet one-on-one via Zoom breakout rooms, establish or expand relationships with one another, and learn more about the HGACBuy program.

If you're an interested HGACBuy member, you can register for one or more of these sessions at hgacbuy.org/resources/hgacbuy-open-house
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.