Houston-Galveston Area Council Newsletter       May 2020
April Board of Directors Meeting
At its meeting on Tuesday, April 21, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Board of Directors officially ratified its agreement with Harris County to administer the Harris County COVID-19 Forgivable Loan Program .

The program, which launched on April 9, offers forgivable loans of up to $25,000 each to small businesses in Harris County impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Harris County Commissioners Court approved $10 million towards the program on April 7, which is split evenly between the county's four districts. Just 28 hours after the program launched, the Houston-Galveston Area Local Development Corporation, which administers the program, received more than 7,000 applications from area businesses with requests totaling more than $150 million. The first group of applicants were approved to receive their requested funds by the loan committee on April 30.

The board also approved more than $17 million in workforce contract amendments to expand services that will assist essential workers in finding childcare assistance. This included increases in funding for services in the areas of financial aid, job training for individuals recently released from incarceration re-entering society, and a job coaching pilot program for individuals with disabilities.

In the monthly H-GAC spotlight, the board listened to a presentation about the Area Agency on Aging's work to provide meals to senior citizens throughout the region amidst the outbreak. Community nutrition contractors are providing more than 9,500 meals per week to seniors via grab and go, drive through, or home delivery. To aid in the Area Agency on Aging's efforts, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently allocated $1.16 million via the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to provide emergency home-delivered meals. It also allocated funds from the federal CARES Act to the Area Agency on Aging to provide nutrition and support services.

The next board of directors meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., May 19, 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.
H-GAC, Harris County Announce First Group of Small Businesses Approved for COVID-19 Forgivable Loan
The first group of small businesses that applied for the Harris County COVID-19 Forgivable Loan Program have been approved to receive funds. The first set of cash distributions have been made, and more are rapidly on the way.

The $10 million-backed loan program is the result of a partnership between Harris County and H-GAC. H-GAC’s local development corporation is administrating the underwriting and review process by an assigned loan committee. Thirteen loans were approved to receive funds by the committee last week. Two of those 13 businesses have already completed the closing process with more expected to close this week.

The Harris County COVID-19 Forgivable Loan Program offers loans of up to $25,000 each with zero percent interest for a five-year term to help small businesses in Harris County stay open and maintain operating expenses. After five years, as long as the business remains in good standing, the loan will be forgiven. Underwriters with the Houston-Galveston Area Local Development Corporation are working directly with applicants to ensure all the required documentation is submitted and to expedite review. The loan committee is reviewing applications twice a week.

For more information about the loan program, visit HarrisCountyLoan.com or view our press release online .
New Mobility Links Website Connects Residents to Free or Affordable Transportation Options
H-GAC launched a new online tool to help mobility managers and residents in need of transportation services find free or affordable providers in their communities.

Mobility Links is a user-friendly, one-stop search hub with directory information on hundreds of providers of medical transport, commute assistance, taxi and shuttle services, meals on wheels, and other essential mobility services for residents throughout the 13-county Houston-Galveston region. Mobility Links can be used by anyone in need of transportation services and is especially suited to provide options for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and low-income families.

Results can be broken down by county service area, service type, passenger type, and organization name and include each provider's hours of operation, cost information, contact numbers and emails, scheduling requirements, and more.

Visit www.h-gac.com/mobility-links to find a transportation provider in your community. If you're a new mobility service provider and would like to be added to our list of providers, email RidesCustSvc@csd.hctx.net .
H-GAC Director of Transportation Discusses Regional Air Quality Impact by COVID-19
H-GAC Director of Transportation Alan Clark discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on air quality in the region with Isiah Carey on Fox 26. Watch the interview in its entirety here .
H-GAC, Gulf Coast Economic Development District Launch Economic Recovery Resources Tool
H-GAC and the Gulf Coast Economic Development District launched an economic recovery resources web page with listings of economic recovery updates, available funding opportunities, upcoming webinars, and partner resources. We will update this website as new opportunities become available and will issue a weekly update of the Economic Recovery Resources Digest to help our local partners stay on top of new funding opportunities.

Subscribers to the monthly Regional Economic Development Digest will receive the weekly update automatically. Subscribe to the digest and weekly update .
Enter the "Show Us How You Telework" Photo Contest by May 7
Are you currently working from home? Commute Solutions wants to see how you’re making the most of it. Submit your best teleworking photo and caption to the “Show Us How You Telework” Photo Contest by May 7 for a chance to earn a one-month membership with Houston BCycle ! Complete the entry form at 1.shortstack.com/KwM5HL to enter.

For more information about teleworking and other sustainable commute options in your community, visit YourCommuteSolution.org .

If you are an employer, university, or property manager, consider becoming a Commute Solutions Partner. Partners receive complimentary travel demand management planning services for carpool and vanpool, walking and biking, public transit, telework, compressed work week, parking management, and more. Visit YourCommuteSolution.org/Partners to learn more.
Workforce Solutions Expands Childcare Eligibility and Financial Aid for Essential Workers
Workforce Solutions recently partnered with Collaborative for Children to create a new online resource dedicated to helping essential workers find quality, affordable childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. FindChildcareNow.org connects essential workers in the Houston-Galveston region with childcare centers that have immediate openings and serves as a gateway where parents can apply for childcare financial assistance through Workforce Solutions.

The free service is available for essential workers living anywhere in the 13-county Gulf Coast region - Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller, and Wharton counties. For more information on how to register visit the Child Care Now information page for essential workers at collabforchildren.org/child-care-now , or read our online news release .
Jamila Owens, H-GAC Travel Demand Management Program Manager, Discusses Teleworking at Latest Brown Bag Event
Jamila Owens, manager of the H-GAC Travel Demand Management program, provided an in-depth snapshot of the state of telework in our region at our latest Brown Bag event on April 13.

Jamila, who has been a teleworker for most of her career and has 17 years of experience managing geographically dispersed teams, discussed some of the benefits and challenges of implementing and managing a telework program. She also shared some telework best practices for employees and employers. To encourage audience engagement, Jamila took feedback throughout her presentation and answered questions at the end.

A recording of the webinar is available HERE . More information about teleworking is available on the Commute Solutions website, YourCommuteSolution.org . Jamila and the Commute Solutions team can also answer questions about teleworking at commutesolutions@h-gac.com .

Save the date for our next Brown Bag event on June 15! Event details and meeting format are coming soon!
Mark Your Calendars for These Upcoming Community & Environmental Meetings and Events
Natural Resources Advisory Committee Meeting - May 7
Mandell Park Walking Trail and Open Spaces
The  Natural Resources Advisory Committee  will meet from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 7. The meeting will be presented as a webinar.

The Natural Resources Advisory Committee serves as a forum to advise the H-GAC Board of Directors and local decisionmakers on policy issues affecting natural resources in the 13-county Houston-Galveston region. Its membership includes diverse representatives from local governments, natural resource management agencies, environmental organizations, and the private sector.

To receive the link to register for the webinar meeting or submit a public comment, please contact  Kathy Janhsen .
Solid Waste Workshop: Recycling - May 21
The next Solid Waste Workshop , which will take place as a webinar from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, May 21, will be on the topic of recycling awareness. Participants will hear from representatives from Keep Texas Recycling, the State of Texas Recycling Alliance, The Recycling Partnership, and Keep Pearland Beautiful on the current state of recycling efforts in the region. They will also have the opportunity to ask questions immediately following the presentations.

H-GAC's Solid Waste Workshops focus on in-depth studies of different topics each quarter.

Registration is required for the webinar. For more information, contact Andrea Tantillo at 832-681-2507.
Annual Basin Steering Committee Meeting - May 27
Basin 11 map
The annual Clean Rivers Program Basin Steering Committee meeting will be from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, via Microsoft Teams. 
Presentations include the 2020 Basin Highlights Report, a monitoring efficiency special study, the FY 2021 coordinated monitoring schedule, and an update on the Bacteria Implementation Group, Basin 11, and Basin 13 I-Plan revisions. 
For more information, to submit public comment, or to receive a link and call-in information to the meeting, please contact Jean Wright .
BIG Spring Meeting - June 2
BIG logo
Save the Date for the  Bacteria Implementation Group (BIG)  spring meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 2.
Topics of discussion will include revisions to the BIG Implementation Plan (I-Plan) and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) updates. The meeting will be presented as a webinar. Activities of the BIG are open to all interested parties. Members of the public are encouraged to attend meetings and participate in the various water quality issues pertinent to the I-Plan.

Registration is required. For more information or to submit a public comment, contact  Steven Johnston  at 832-681-2579.
There's Still Time to Take the Census!
There's still time to take the 2020 U.S. Census online! 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.  

Complete the census online in less than 10 minutes at 2020census.gov . The census is also available by phone and by mail in more than 13 languages. Say YES to Census 2020, and help us shape the next 10 years for the Gulf Coast region. You deserved to be counted!
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 .