Houston-Galveston Area Council Newsletter    October 2020
September Board of Directors Meeting
At its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 15, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Board of Directors approved several items of regional significance.

The board approved an advance funding agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) that will cover three new Livable Centers planning studies with the City of Clute, the Greater Southeast Management District, and Harris County Precinct 2. The funding agreement will also allow more flexibility in project scope for future Livable Centers studies, which would provide more opportunities for participation by underserved communities.

Livable Centers aims to create more walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods that provide alternatives to driving and enhance quality of life. Since 2008, H-GAC has worked with local partners to complete 30 Livable Centers studies. Five new studies are currently under way, and three more are planned. One new study that was authorized by the board will take place in Seabrook, Texas.

The H-GAC Elder Justice Program received consent from the board to apply for a STOP Violence Against Women Act Formula grant. The Elder Justice Program brings together government agencies and community organizations to craft a coordinated response to elder abuse in the Houston-Galveston region. Elder abuse is one of America's fastest-growing crimes, and women - especially minority women - are particularly vulnerable. If awarded, the grant would fund support services such as technical assistance for law enforcement and community agencies, in-region training on elder abuse, and building a regional tracking system for elder abuse cases.

The HGACBuy Cooperative Purchasing Program was approved to establish and renew contracts with vendors for a large variety of emergency preparedness materials, security equipment, modular buildings, and even autonomous vehicles for public transportation. The board also appointed new members to the Aging and Disability Advisory Committee, the Natural Resources Advisory Committee, the Houston-Galveston Local Development Corporation, and the Solid Waste Management Committee. Click HERE for a full list of the new committee members and their nominators.

Towards the end of the meeting, the board recognized outgoing transportation director Alan Clark, who retired at the end of September after 37 years of service at H-GAC.
Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, Oct. 20

The next board of directors meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., Oct. 20, 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 Program Spotlight: Workforce Solutions
To increase awareness of our agency and highlight some of the great work we do, H-GAC spotlights a program or initiative at every board of directors meeting. At its September meeting, the board recognized Workforce Solutions.
By helping employers acquire and develop talent and by connecting people to jobs, education, and career development opportunities, Workforce Solutions aims to make the 13-county Houston-Galveston region a great place to live, work, and do business.
Workforce Solutions continues to deliver services remotely. Limited staff are working on site at career offices to provide curbside service by appointment. Career offices also have complimentary internet service customers can use in the parking lot. A new career office in Missouri City opens this month, bringing the total number of career offices in the region to 28.
Workforce Solutions has developed new online education programs to help workers stay competitive in the rapidly changing labor market. It partnered with LinkedIn Learning to offer a 7-week pilot, where 84 staff, 17 employers, and 56 job-seekers completed professional development courses to improve their essential skills. It has also partnered with Coursera to provide free online career courses for workers who were displaced by the pandemic. In Paths for Texas, Workforce Solutions joined with the Walmart Foundation and educational partners to upskill unemployed and current workers in retail. It also provides pathways for retail workers seeking to transition to IT or healthcare careers. More than 9,000 area residents are currently engaged online in Workforce Solutions adult education classes.
Workforce Solutions continues hosting weekly Facebook Live sessions in partnership with ABC 13 promoting job openings and providing job search advice, and it hosts regular virtual job fairs and job search seminars. Since March, it has hosted more than 350 virtual events with more than 7,000 participants.
For more information, visit www.wrksolutions.com or call 1-888-469-5627.
Workforce Solutions' newest career office at 3823 Cartwright Rd. in Missouri City opens this month. Office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday. Click here for more information.
Program Lead: Mike Temple
Title: Director of Human Services
Years Served at H-GAC: 40
Contact Phone: 713-993-4524
Texas Association of Regional Councils Recognizes H-GAC Leaders' Work in Fostering Regional Cooperation
At its annual meeting on Sept. 18, the Texas Association of Regional Councils - the leadership association of the state's 24 regional councils of government (including H-GAC) - honored H-GAC leaders with appointments and accolades showcasing their work in fostering regional cooperation and promoting the well-being of Texas residents.
Chuck Wemple, H-GAC executive director, was appointed to lead the association's Executive Directors Council. Wemple's term will be for one year, where he will focus on increasing funding opportunities for rural transportation planning groups and increasing broadband access statewide - especially in rural and economically disadvantaged communities.
Honorable Judge Nate McDonald of Matagorda County received the Wilbur R. Dunk Award for regional leadership for his dedication to fostering regional cooperation through councils of government. He was nominated for the award by H-GAC, where he has served on the board of directors since 2007 and as chair in 2016.
For more information about these accolades, visit the H-GAC news releases page. For more information about the Texas Association of Regional Councils, visit txregionalcouncil.org.
Save the Dates for the 2020 General Law and Home Rule Caucuses
H-GAC General Law and Home Rule Cities will meet to select their representatives and alternates to serve on the 2021 H-GAC board of directors. These meetings will be held virtually via Zoom. Mark your calendars for the following dates:

  • General Law Cities Caucus – 3-4:30 p.m. | Thursday, Nov. 5
  • Home Rule Cities Caucus – 3-4:30 p.m. | Thursday, Nov. 12

Meeting registration details will be emailed in the coming weeks. Contact Cynthia Jones at Cynthia.Jones@h-gac.com for more information.
Texas Municipal League Region 14 Fall Meeting Summary
Region 14 of the Texas Municipal League met virtually on Thursday, Sept. 24 for their annual fall meeting. During their business meeting, the 2020-22 officers were elected. Serving as president will be Mayor Joe Zimmerman, City of Sugar Land. The vice president will be councilmember Beverly Gaines, City of Webster, and the TML board regional director will be Mayor Andy Brauninger, City of Huntsville. Guest speakers at the meeting were TML legislative counsel Bill Longley, who advised members on policies enacted to address COVID-19, and TML Executive Director Bennett Sandlin, who gave an update regarding what members can expect in the next legislative session.
TML Region 14 2020-22 Officers
Joe Zimmerman
Mayor, City of Sugar Land
Vice President
Beverly Gaines
Councilmember, City of Webster
Board Regional Director
Andy Brauninger
Mayor, City of Huntsville
Oct. 19 Brown Bag Will Cover Vision Zero Traffic Safety Initiative
At the next Brown Bag webinar, Lauren Grove, transportation planner with the City of Houston Planning and Development Department, will discuss one of the city's most ambitious safety initiatives, Vision Zero Houston.

Vision Zero is a commitment and strategy to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on Houston streets by 2030. It requires collaboration and leadership to improve mobility through engineering, enforcement, education, evaluation, and equity. Grove is coordinating the strategy for Vision Zero.

The webinar will take place at noon, Monday, Oct. 19. Click HERE to register.

Missed the latest Brown Bag webinar? Visit the H-GAC webinar hub page to view a recording of our webinar on Aug. 17 about the Texas Department of Transportation's ConnectSmart program.
Texas Southern University Center for Transportation, Training and Research Will Host Transportation Workshop on Dec. 10
The Texas Southern University Center for Transportation, Training and Research invites metropolitan planning organizations, councils of government, public transit agencies, and social services agencies in Texas to a workshop from 1-3 p.m., Dec. 10, 2020.

The workshop will explore autonomous vehicles and other technologies to improve transportation for people with disabilities and ways to provide better connectivity for rural and vulnerable communities around the three major cities of the Texas Triangle megaregion (Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio).

This workshop is sponsored by Texas Southern University and the consortium of Cooperative Mobility for Competitive Megaregions (CM2).

Registration details will be posted soon. For more information, contact Carol Lewis, Ph.D., professor and director of the Center for Transportation, Training and Research, at carol.lewis@tsu.edu.
Livable Centers Studies Receive Awards for Excellence in Urban Design and Public Outreach
The Texas chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) honored two Livable Centers studies at its annual planning awards program, announced on Oct. 1.

The North Houston Livable Centers Study received the gold award for best urban design. This award recognizes an organization's efforts to create a sense of place for a community - whether it's by design of a street, public space, neighborhood, or campus. Additionally, the Livable Centers Study for the International Management District received the silver award for outstanding achievement in public outreach. The award celebrates how planning improves a community's quality of life.

The APA Texas Planning Awards recognize individuals, organizations, and communities for outstanding contributions to planning in Texas. Click HERE to view the full list of awards recipients.

For more information about Livable Centers, visit h-gac.com/livable-centers.
H-GAC DataLab Resources Provide a Data-backed Snapshot of Our Region's Transportation, Community, and Environmental Needs
As a forum for local government discussion, problem solving, and cooperation, H-GAC conducts extensive research to inform its planning programs and assist local policymakers in decision-making. The following tools provide a snapshot of the community characteristics and infrastructural needs of our region and are free for planners, policymakers, and members of the public to use:

  • Regional Resilience Tool: As part of the Federal Highway Administration pilot study, H-GAC developed the Regional Resilience Tool to display the criticality and vulnerability of our region's road segments. This information can help in targeting road improvements and developing mitigation strategies.
  • Regional Equity Tool: The Regional Equity Tool is an interactive mapping application that identifies the distribution of our region's vulnerable, low to moderate income populations, and historic settlements. This information can help users better understand the sociodemographic and community characteristics of a given study or project area.
  • 2019 Regional Mobility Report: The recently-released Regional Mobility Report is an interactive report summarizing our region's progress toward achieving a safe, reliable, and multimodal transportation network.

For more information about these, other data tools, and our interactive reports, visit the H-GAC DataLab page.
#SitSafe Partnership Recognizes Safety Initiatives to Protect Public Transit Riders
The final week of Commute Solutions Month recognizes #SitSafe, a regional partnership currently under way with H-GAC and area transit providers to help commuters and other travelers understand the important measures being taken to help ensure their safety. As more of the region’s employers begin to plan a partial or full return of employees this fall, winter, or later in 2021, the health and well-being of transit riders remains a priority.
Prior to COVID-19, there were approximately 90 million passenger boardings by transit riders in our region. This removed millions of miles from our roadways, improved air quality, and saved valuable money in congestion costs. This spring and summer, area transit providers have carried essential workers and others to the medical center, grocery stores, daycares, and more to help keep our region moving. As we enter a new season, our #SitSafe partners are prepared to help you ride safely on bus, rail, and vanpool.
To learn more about the #SitSafe initiative, watch our video or visit https://www.yourcommutesolution.org/SitSafe. #Sitsafe partners include Brazos Transit District, Colorado Valley Transit, City of Conroe, Fort Bend Transit, Harris County Transit, Gulf Coast Transit District, METRO, METRO Star, and The Woodlands Township.
Workforce Solutions Recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month
This year marks the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month as well as the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Throughout the month of October, Workforce Solutions will engage in a variety of activities to engage its staff and partners on disability employment issues and its commitment to inclusive work culture.

Click the flyer below for more information, and visit the Workforce Solutions website for employment resources available for people with disabilities.
Area Agency on Aging Offers Free, Unbiased Assistance During Medicare Open Enrollment Period
AAA logo
Medicare's annual open enrollment period begins on Oct. 15. As the local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller, and Wharton counties, the Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging has certified staff ready to help Medicare beneficiaries understand their plan options without having to leave their home.

For more information about Medicare benefits counseling services, please call the Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-437-7396.
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.