Houston-Galveston Area Council Newsletter    September 2021
August Board of Directors Meeting
At its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 17, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Board of Directors approved several items of regional significance.

The board unanimously accepted the fiscal year 2021 update to the region's Water Quality Management Plan. The update is completed annually by H-GAC in cooperation with the Texas
Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and provides an overview of activities that impact water quality in our region. Activities highlighted in the latest update include up-to-date permit, service area, and location data for the region's wastewater treatment plants; analysis of wastewater treatment plants' discharge data; analysis of sanitary sewer overflows; and updates to a comprehensive database of septic tanks and other on-site sewage facilities in the region.

Additionally, the board approved more than 50 Workforce Solutions and Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging service contracts with regional organizations for 2021 and 2022. Workforce Solutions is expecting a 46% increase in funds for 2022 operations - driven mainly by additional funds to provide early education/childcare financial assistance to working parents - and the Area Agency on Aging is expecting a 14.8% funding increase for 2022. Among other services, the Workforce Solutions contracts are expected to serve at least 555,000 employers and individuals; assist in creating 3,400 new jobs for the region; utilize at least $18 million for scholarships, apprenticeships, and upskilling or reskilling; and assist more than 35,000 working families with early education expenses. The aging service contracts will be put towards adding or expanding nutrition, transportation, and direct care services for seniors in the region.

The board also reviewed an amendment application from Hawthorn Park Landfill, located near Tanner Heights and Independence Gardens in the northwest Houston area, and found it to be consistent with the goals and objectives of the H-GAC regional solid waste management plan. The facility is applying to the TCEQ to amend its existing Type IV landfill permit. They are also seeking an amendment to increase the height and footprint of the landfill, as well as change the name of the facility to the Hawthorn Park Recycling and Disposal Facility. The board's approval includes staff and local government recommendations for USA Waste of Texas Landfills, Inc., which owns and operates the facility, to minimize impact to the surrounding residences by improving drainage, expounding its processes for odor, litter, and vector control, and other methods.

Towards the end of the meeting, the board approved appointing Friendswood Mayor Pro-Tem and City Councilmember Sally Branson as an alternate member of the Transportation Policy Council, representing Harris County small cities, and received an informational update on H-GAC's work to implement the Regional Conservation Framework. H-GAC will soon begin soliciting conservation projects from local government partners and non-governmental organizations for inclusion on a priority project list. The list would be on-going and reviewed by the Natural Resources Advisory Council on at least a quarterly basis.
Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, Sept. 21

The next board meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21. 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: Regionally Coordinated Transportation Plan
At its August meeting the H-GAC Board of Directors received an update on the Regionally Coordinated Transportation Plan.

The Regionally Coordinated Transportation Plan (RCTP) is the five-year plan to provide more efficient and effective public transportation services across the entire 13-county region, especially for seniors (65 and older), persons with disabilities, persons with low incomes, veterans, and youth. The plan works to coordinate resources to cost-effectively fill gaps in the region's transportation network.

The RCTP is undergoing an update for 2022-2026. Earlier in August, H-GAC hosted a series of public workshops where residents were invited to share their feedback on public transportation in their communities and how it can be improved. An online survey was also provided for residents to share their thoughts.

H-GAC will study the results of the survey and public comments received at the workshops to better understand the needs and barriers to access in the region. The agency is planning on hosting focus groups later in the fall to seek further, more in-depth community input as well as public meetings in early 2022. The final RCTP report is expected to be ready in the spring of 2022.

Residents and stakeholders can get the latest information regarding the RCTP by visiting engage.h-gac.com/RCTP. Bookmark the page and check back frequently for updates.
Program Contacts:
Robyn Egbert

Title: Outreach Coordinator, Communications
Contact Email: robyn.balaban@h-gac.com
Contact Phone: 832-681-2583
Sandy Klanfer

Title: Senior Transportation Planner
Contact Email: sanford.klanfer@h-gac.com
Contact Phone: 832-681-2574
H-GAC Releases Official Statement on North Houston Highway Improvement Project
H-GAC Releases New Regional U.S. Census Redistricting Data
H-GAC recently released data specific to the 13-county H-GAC region based on the U.S. Census Bureau's 2020 Redistricting Data. 

The data is summarized for various geographies, including county (incorporated and unincorporated), census places/cities, independent school districts, voting districts, congressional districts, Texas State Senate and House districts, census tracts, and one-square-mile and nine-square-mile grids.

The data includes information about:
  • Total population by race and ethnicity
  • Voting age population
  • Housing units; and
  • Group quarter population

Some regional highlights include:
  • The 13-county region added 1.2 million people in the last 10 years.
  • The region is more diversified now with 37% Hispanic, 34% White, 17% Black, and 8% Asian population.
  • The voting age population accounts for 76% of the total population.
  • Among group quarters, the population in correctional institutions and juvenile facilities decreased, whereas the population in college dormitories and nursing homes increased.

Check out the data tool online at datalab.h-gac.com/2020census/. For questions, contact cegis@h-gac.com
Join the Journey to a Better Commute During Commute Solutions Month
September is Commute Solutions Month, and this month we challenge you to attend one of our virtual fairs to learn more about alternate forms of commuting, such as biking, walking, public transportation, carpooling, or vanpooling. These alternate modes of transportation have been proven to reduce stress, improve mental and physical health, reduce overall energy consumption, and save money.

Register for one of our free virtual transportation fairs on Sept. 16 and Sept. 30 (11 a.m. - 2 p.m.), where you can play games, speak one-on-one with experts, watch short videos, and grab additional information about transportation options. Also, check out our website at yourcommutesolution.org for more virtual activities and to learn about alternative commuting options available near you.

Take the challenge and join the journey to a better commute.
Harris County Launching New Small Business Recovery Program
Harris County logo
Harris County small businesses still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may soon apply for funding through a new Harris County initiative. The grant program will disburse awards of between $5,000 and $25,000 to up to 2,000 Harris County businesses for COVID relief.

Applicants will need to be businesses registered in Harris County with 30 or fewer employees. Applicants must have annual revenue of less than $500,000 in 2019 and 2020, and the business must have been in operation before March 11, 2020. The application period will be two weeks, beginning Sept. 20. The new application website will be linked from the county website.  
H-GAC Seeks Information on Conservation Projects in the Region
Land Conservation Image - Sunset over a field
As part of the Regional Conservation Initiative, H-GAC is collecting information on conservation projects from local governments and non-governmental organizations for inclusion on a priority project list. This list will help H-GAC allocate staff time to assist with funding applications, convene partners and stakeholders, and otherwise advance conservation projects across the region. 

There is no funding associated with this priority project list. Learn more about the priority project list here

Email conservation@h-gac.com to set up a one-on-one meeting to discuss your conservation projects and priorities. 
David Fink Discusses Hurricane Season Preparedness on Great Day Houston, ABC 13 Facebook Live Segments
David Fink, H-GAC program manager for safety and regional incident management, provided important tips about hurricane season preparedness and evacuation planning on an episode of Channel 11's Great Day Houston as well as on a special Facebook Live Q&A in partnership with ABC 13.

We have reached the peak of hurricane season, and named storms have impacted several of our coastal neighbors in the United States. It is critical for area residents to be prepared.

Residents who live in an evacuation zone are encouraged to visit the H-GAC hurricane evacuation planning page for 2021 evacuation maps and important tips to help develop their evacuation plan. Visit TogetherAgainstTheWeather.com for tool kits and strategies on preparing your home and family for a hurricane or severe storm. The page also contains helpful materials for those caring for small children, special need individuals, and those with health conditions.

Check out recordings of David Fink on Great Day Houston and ABC 13's Facebook Live segment here and here.
Save the Dates for the 10th Annual Hiring Red, White & You! Job Fair
Save the dates for the 10th Annual Hiring Red, White & You! Virtual Job Fair supporting Texas veterans and their families. The virtual fair will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4 and conclude at 10 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7. 

Workforce Solutions, in partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Veterans Commission, and the Texas Medical Center, is connecting Texas veterans, their families, and qualified candidates with area employers who are looking to fill a variety of positions. This event is free to veterans, their spouses, and employers.

Register today at wrksolutions2.easyvirtualfair.com/prefair. To learn more, connect with a Workforce Solutions office or service unit at 1-888-469-JOBS (5627).
Register to Attend H-GAC Housing Summit on Sept. 17
Completed home
Make plans to attend H-GAC's Housing Summit from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 17. The summit, titled "Paths to Locally Driven Affordable Rental Housing," will explore opportunities related to housing with speakers from a variety of backgrounds and geographies. Panelists will discuss how preserving naturally occurring affordable rental housing, working with small builders and developers, and other locally-driven solutions can protect housing affordability. 

The event will be online, and registration is required. For more information, contact Cheryl Mergo.
H-GAC Launches 2022 Aerial Imagery Cost-Share Program
H-GAC has launched the registration process to acquire new regional aerial imagery in 2022 as part of its cost-share imagery program. The imagery is flown by highly qualified orthoimagery companies and delivered to cost-share participants within six to eight months of original 'leaf-off' flight times.

Participants also receive access to their imagery via online GIS image services that are ready to use. The cost-share program is designed to save participants time, money, and resources as the total cost of the project is shared between all participants. The project is fully managed by H-GAC.

Registration is open now, and participants can specify what imagery they would like to receive in 2022 by individual tile, county, any combination of tile and county, or the entire regional coverage at 13.5 thousand square miles. This aerial imagery data is heavily relied upon by the GIS and engineering communities to plan for growth and expansion within our region. The imagery is available at 6-inch resolution in true color (RGB) or infrared color (CIR).

For more details, FAQs, and other information on H-GAC's 2022 Aerial Imagery Cost-Share program, please visit the program website.
H-GAC Accepting Applications for Solid Waste Grants
Solid Waste Grant
H-GAC is now accepting applications for solid waste grants. H-GAC receives a portion of the money collected as tipping fees at landfills across the state as pass-through funding from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to fund solid waste grant projects throughout the 13-county region. As part of this program, H-GAC will award $1 million in solid waste program grant funds to eligible projects through a competitive process. 

Grants will begin in March or September 2022, and all work must be completed by June 2023. This is the only call for projects planned for this biennium. The grant application period opened on Sept. 7 and will close at noon Friday, Oct. 15. H-GAC will host a workshop on how to complete the grant application from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, online. Registration is required.

For more information about the grant program or to be added to an email list to receive future solid waste grant notifications, contact Erin Livingston.
Final Transportation Brown Bag Webinar of 2021 Takes Place on Sept. 20
The final Transportation Brown Bag of the year will take place at noon on Sept. 20 with Streetlight Data. Representatives from Streetlight Data will discuss how to get comprehensive data and measure transportation equity.

For more information and to register, visit h-gac.com/transportation-public-outreach/brown-bag-lunch-series.
Submit Your Projects for the 16th Annual Parks and Natural Areas Awards
Parks and Natural Areas Logo with stylized tree H-GAC logo swing bird water and soccer ball
H-GAC's 16th annual Parks and Natural Areas Awards program is now accepting applications. The Parks and Natural Areas Awards honor projects in four categories: Projects Over $500,000; Projects Under $500,000; Planning Process and Policy Tools; and, new this year, Programming. Winning entries serve as models for planning and project implementation for parks and natural areas in the region. 

The application period will be open until 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 30. An online application guide is available. No funding is associated with this awards program. Winners will be notified in December and recognized in 2022. For more information, contact Andrea Tantillo
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.