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  September 18, 2013

City of Houston E-Newsletter

Table of Contents

Mayors United Against Texting While Driving Campaign
Text "ItcanwaitHou" to 464329 to Pledge Never to Text While Driving

No Texting While Driving graphicMayor Annise Parker has kicked off Mayors United Against Texting While Driving, a social media campaign challenging all Texans to take the pledge to not text and drive. In partnership with AT&T, Mayor Parker and the City of Houston launched the nation's first citywide It Can Wait, Houston campaign in April 2013. Mayors United Against Texting While Driving will expand what Houston started all across Texas.

The Mayors United Against Texting While Driving campaign will run in Houston, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio and Fort Worth Thursday, September 19 through Monday September 30, 2013, with each city vying to get as many citizens as they can pledging to never text while driving. Each city will have its own city-specific texting code. Houston residents can take the pledge by texting "ItcanwaitHou" to 464329. Show Houston is the safest city in Texas and pledge now!

Those who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash. In 2011, 13 percent of the over 3,000 traffic fatalities in Texas were due to texting while driving. Research released by AT&T indicates that 43 percent of commuters admit to a "habit" of texting while driving, even though they are aware of the risks. Take the no texting while driving pledge now by texting "ItcanwaitHou" to 464329.

For more information visit For any questions or comments, email

Homeless Stand Down - Houston
Friday, September 20, 2013

Veterans Affairs Office logoThe annual Houston Homeless Veteran Stand Down is Friday, September 20, 2013, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Emancipation Park, 3018 Dowling Street, Houston 77004. Mayor Annise Parker will kick off the ceremonial events at 11:30 a.m. She will be joined by U.S. Congressional representatives and Adam Walmus, Director of the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital.

The Homeless Veteran Stand Down assists homeless veterans in their transition into a stable, safe living environment. Homeless veterans who attend this event gain access to the broad spectrum of resources available to those in need. These resources include dental care, eye exams, medical and mental health screenings, housing and employment opportunities, benefits counseling and more. The Stand Down affords homeless veterans the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being.

The event is hosted by the City of Houston Office of Veterans' Affairs (COHOVA), Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, the U.S. Veterans Initiative and other homeless service organizations within the Greater Houston Area.

For information about COHOVA, visit

Ready Houston Preparedness Kit Chef's Challenge
Saturday, September 21, 2013

The City of Houston Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security and the Houston Community Preparedness Collaborative (HCPC) invite you to the first annual Ready Houston Preparedness Kit Chef's Challenge, Saturday, September 21, 2013, 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at Discovery Green in the Anheuser-Busch Stage, 1500 McKinney, Houston 77010 (across from the George R. Brown Convention Center).

This free event, which is part of National Preparedness Month, will feature a cooking competition with some of Houston's most celebrated chefs, along with meteorologists and notable food journalists as judges.

The competition will focus on non-perishable food items to create excitement and awareness around the Ready Houston preparedness program and its key messages of Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Stay Informed and Know Your Neighbors. All dishes will be prepared on-site and cooked using camp stoves to simulate food prep during times of a disaster.

In addition to the cook-off, there will be emergency response equipment on display, information on disaster preparedness available and other giveaways. To learn more about the competition and participants, visit For questions, email

To learn more about Ready Houston, visit

Chef Challenge graphic

Houston Public Library Program Spotlights NAACP Co-Founder
Saturday, September 21, 2013

Join the 2013 Scholar-in-Residence program as Dr. Phillip Sinitiere explores William Edward Durghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois's important role in the quest for racial justice in Texas on Saturday, September 21, 2013, 2 - 3 p.m. at The African American Library at the Gregory School, 1300 Victor Street, Houston 77019.

Scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He studied at Harvard University and in 1895 became the first African-American to earn a doctorate from Harvard. He wrote extensively and was the best known spokesperson for African-American rights during the first half of the 20th century. W.E.B. Du Bois co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909.

Texas played a significant role in W.E.B. Du Bois's publications and political activism. This event is free and open to the public. For more information visit or call 832.393.1440.

"Shine A Light On Human Trafficking"
Community Kickoffs: Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Shine a Light Houston logoThe kickoff for "Shine a Light on Human Trafficking," a new public awareness campaign, is Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to dusk, at City Hall, The Galleria and numerous community centers and consulates' offices throughout Houston and Harris County.

The public is encouraged to participate. Human trafficking is defined as the buying and selling of people for the purpose of forced, defrauded or coerced services, labor or sex. Described as "modern slavery," the crime includes the victimization of adults and children.

Mayor Annise Parker will lead the campaign kickoff from the steps of City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston 77002, with remarks by government officials and a lighting ceremony broadcast live by HTV and screened at the community venues. The live broadcast can be viewed on AT&T U-verse Channel 99, Comcast Channel 16, Phonoscope Channel 2, Suddenlink Channel 14 and TVMax Channel 98.

For a schedule of events during Human Trafficking Awareness month, visit or call the City's Department of Neighborhood (DON) Office of International Communities (OIC) at 832.393.1010.

This campaign is sponsored by OIC under the leadership of the Mayor's Human Trafficking Task Force, in partnership with the Houston Police Department (HPD) and the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO). The purpose of the campaign is to inform citizens about the crime of human trafficking and encourage them to report suspicious situations to authorities.

For sponsor information visit, HPD at and HCSO at For HTV visit

Call for Nominations:
2013 Mayor's Disability Advocate of the Year Awards
Deadline Monday, September 30, 2013

Disability Advocate of the Year Awards graphicNominations are being accepted for the 2013 Mayor's Disability Advocate of the Year Awards (MDAYA) through Monday, September 30, 2013.

MDAYA seeks to recognize and honor the contributions of advocates who, through their volunteerism in the community, have provided a notable effort toward increasing Houston community awareness of issues related to disabilities, are working towards dissolution of one or more barriers to people with disabilities or who are the voice for those who have difficulty or cannot represent themselves.

Selected from Houston each year are two adult disability advocates (one with a disability and one without), one youth disability advocate, and at the discretion of the MDAYA selection committee, one posthumous award.

For nomination forms and additional information about MDAYA, visit

For more information about the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, visit, email or call 832.394.0814.

National Night Out
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

National Night Out graphicJoin the Houston Police Department (HPD) at the 30th Annual National Night Out on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. This is an opportunity to get out and meet your neighbors, as well as interact with HPD officers to discuss crime concerns in your community. Additionally, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Police Chief Charles A. McClelland Jr. will visit several communities.

Take advantage of this opportunity to meet the officers who patrol your neighborhoods and help strengthen police and community relations. Thousands of citizens in neighborhoods all over the city are expected to step out of their homes to meet their neighbors and renew their commitment to public safety.

Civic leaders and citizens interested in scheduling an event, finding their area coordinator or seeking more information on National Night Out, should visit or call 713.308.3200.

To learn more about HPD, visit

The City of Houston is Watching and Will Prosecute Illegal Dumpers

The City of Houston (COH) is beginning a pilot project to catch those responsible for illegal dumping. Funding for the project, approximately $250,000, was provided by a budget amendment presented by District B Council Member Jerry Davis. Five surveillance cameras have been placed at undisclosed locations in Davis' northeast Houston City Council district.

The exact locations of the cameras will NOT be made public. During the three-month pilot project, Houston Police Department's (HPD) Environmental Investigations Unit (EIU) will monitor and maintain all activity captured by the cameras. When signs of illegal dumping are observed, EIU will send the information to HPD's North or Northeast Divisions for follow-up. It is estimated 50 to 80 cases will be generated each month.

The following information will help in deciding whether or not the program should be expanded:

  • Number of violations
  • Number of people involved
  • Pounds, volume, or cubic feet of items dumped
  • Types of arrests and charges
  • Types of trash being dumped (furniture, garbage, tires, tree trimmings etc.)
  • Interviews with the suspects to determine why they dumped at this location, have they dumped before, do they know about the COH sites for legal elimination of items.

The COH offers monthly Tree Waste and Junk Waste collection and operates several drop-off facilities. Information about the Tree Waste and Junk Waste collection schedule for your neighborhood as well as the locations of the neighborhood depositories is available by calling the 311 helpline.

311 is also the place to call to report illegal dumping. Additionally, you can make a report online by downloading the 311 app or by visiting

City of Houston Partners With The Houston
Furniture Bank To Recycle Mattresses

Furniture graphicThe City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD), in partnership with The Houston Furniture Bank, has launched a pilot program to recycle mattresses. Instead of going to the landfill, mattresses dropped off at two of the City's six Neighborhood Depository and Recycling Centers (depositories), will be delivered to The Furniture Bank where the mattresses will be deconstructed and the materials recovered will be recycled into new products. The two containers used to house the mattresses were generously donated by BBVA Compass Bank to The Houston Furniture Bank.

Mattresses are accepted at all six depositories; however, only the mattresses dropped off at the 2240 Central Street, Houston 77017 and 5565 Kirkpatrick, Houston 77028 depositories are diverted for recycling. Other locations for mattress drop off may be added in the future.

All depositories are open:
Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. (Daylight Savings Time)
9 a.m. - 6 p.m. (Non-Daylight Savings Time)

Houston residents may use the depositories four times per month and are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes before closing time to allow adequate time to unload. Each user must provide a Texas Drivers License or ID and a current utility bill or city property tax receipt as proof of residency.

For questions, contact Sandra Jackson at, Marlene Garcia at or call 713.837.9114. To learn more about SWMD, visit

For more frequent updates and information, like SWMD on Facebook at or follow on Twitter at

Houston Public Library Wants to Hear from You!

Houston Public Library logoHouston Public Library (HPL) has kicked off the Strategic Master Plan process to provide vision and direction for library services. To help improve their services, HPL needs your help to learn more about the communities it serves.

Houstonians are invited to participate in this process by completing a brief survey. It will take about five minutes of your time and will provide HPL staff with input for the future of the library. Even if you do not consider yourself a regular library customer, your opinion is valuable.

The survey is available online from Sunday, September 22 through Sunday, October 6, 2013 at The survey may be accessed in Spanish at

Thank you for helping to improve your library. For further information, visit HPL at or call 832.393.1313.

2013 Hispanic Heritage Award Recipients

As part of the City of Houston observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Mayor, with the help of her Hispanic Advisory Board, recognized five Houstonians with the 2013 Hispanic Heritage Awards in the following categories: Art in the Community: Macario Ramirez, Community Activist: Mario Martinez, Education: Nicolas Kanellos, Ph.D., Lifetime Achievement: Dolores "Lolita" Guerrero and Youth Activist: Nohemi Chavez.

All recipients will be honored at the Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Award Reception on Wednesday, October 9, 2013, from 5:30 - 7 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Caroline Weiss Law Building, 1001 Bissonnet, Houston 77005. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP by Friday, October 5 by calling 832.393.0815.

For more information on Hispanic Heritage Month events at the Houston Public Library, visit

Houston Public Library presents the Second Annual Houston LibroFEST
Saturday, October 5, 2013

LibroFEST graphicMake plans to attend the Houston Public Library (HPL) book and arts festival on Saturday, October 5, 2013, 1 - 5 p.m. at the HPL Central Library, 500 McKinney Street, Houston 77002. This free festival highlights Hispanic writers and showcases the vibrant culture of the Latino community!

Take in the sights and sounds of bilingual storytelling, poetry recitation, children's activities, writing workshops, musical and theatrical performances and much more. LibroFest is part of HPL's month-long celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

For more information visit or call 832.393.1313. To learn more about HPL, visit

Free Fall 2013 Childhood Immunizations

The Houston Fire Department (HFD) and the Care Van Program are teaming up again to provide Houston area children with free childhood immunizations for children birth up to 18 years whose families have no insurance, are underinsured or are on Medicaid. Children with CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) or private insurance will not be accepted.

Remember: For each clinic, a parent or adult guardian must accompany the child(ren) and provide the updated immunization records for each child.

To see a complete list of all fall 2013 clinics in English and Spanish, visit

For additional information visit, or contact Paul Box at or 832.394.6636.

Remember: Working smoke detectors save lives. Test yours today!

Operators of Boarding Homes to Register with the City

The Houston City Council passed an ordinance on July 24, 2013, calling for the regulation of boarding homes within the City of Houston (COH). The ordinance amends Chapters 1 and 28 of the Code of Ordinances and regulates unlicensed facilities within the COH.

A boarding home or boarding home facility means an establishment that:

  1. Furnishes, in one or more buildings, lodging to three or more persons with disabilities or elderly persons unrelated to the owner of the establishment by blood or marriage; and
  2. Provides residents with community meals, light housework, meal preparation, transportation, grocery shopping, money management, laundry services, or assistance with self-administration of medication, but does not provide personal care services as defined by Section 247.002 of the Texas Health and Safety Code to those persons.

The ordinance exempts certain facilities that have state licenses. (Sec 28-452)

The ordinance requires registration, fire inspection, records retention, reporting, and criminal background checks of owners and employees. Registration packets will be mailed to boarding home operators in October 2013, and enforcement begins November 25, 2013. Officers with the Houston Police Department's Mental Health Division are educating the community and boarding homes operators on the recently passed ordinance.

For additional information on the boarding homes ordinance, visit or call 311, the COH helpline.

Celebrate My Drive
Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Houston Fire Department (HFD) will host Celebrate My Drive for new drivers on Saturday, October 19, 2013, from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center 1475 West Gray, Houston 77019. Local teens between the ages of 14 and 18 are encouraged to hear safety talks about distracted and impaired driving.

HFD will have a number of partners present, including State Farm and KSBJ-89.3FM. Teens will get the opportunity to participate in the following:

  • Distracted Driving Obstacle Course using pedal cars
  • Field Sobriety Testing by local law enforcement while impaired wearing drug or alcohol Fatal Vision Goggles
  • Hand-eye coordination activities while impaired by wearing drug or alcohol Fatal Vision Goggles
  • Learn what happens to a passenger during a vehicle 'roll-over' accident while wearing/not-wearing a seatbelt

For an event flyer and a map to the location, visit

Remember: Working smoke detectors save lives. Test yours today!

Houston Parks and Recreation News

The City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) has moved forward with several important projects.

Beginning in September 2013, Hermann Park's Centennial Gardens will be improved under the auspices of HPARD and the Hermann Park Conservancy. A new Running Trails Center in Memorial Park is being built to provide showers and lockers for park visitors as well as office space and meeting rooms for the Memorial Park Conservancy.

Additionally, HPARD has received four Transportation Enhancement Grants to propel trail projects forward on Brays and Hunting Bayous. The grants will allow connection of existing trails, parks, METRO bus and rail stops, and tie into a major flood control project on the City's north side.

For more information on HPARD and park development projects, visit

Public Works and Engineering Works Hard for Houstonians

Public Works and Engineering graphicThe City of Houston Public Works Department (PWE) is responsible for the administration, construction management, planning, maintenance and technical engineering of the city's infrastructure.

Of particular importance, PWE continues to ask residents to assist in promoting water education, conservation and stewardship by learning how to better manage water usage. Visit to sign up for water usage alerts, monitor usage, get notifications of a water leak on the private side of the meter or pay a water bill.

PWE's constant effort to serve Houstonians was recently recognized with the prestigious American Public Works Association (APWA) Accreditation award. The APWA Accreditation program recognizes governmental agencies that go beyond the requirements of the management practices established nationally in the public works industry.

For more information on all the services PWE offers to serve Houstonians, visit

Green Building Resource Center
Social Media Photo Opportunity

No Texting While Driving graphicThe City of Houston's (COH) Green Building Resource Center (GBRC) is a very useful resource for conserving energy, water and materials. It is open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., and the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at 1002 Washington Avenue, Houston 77002, in the LEED Gold Certified Houston Permitting Center.

In addition to healthy indoor air quality with over 50 displays of green   technology, you can now take a photo of yourself with Dr. Seuss's The Lorax, post it on social media and tell the world you are upgrading your green IQ at the GBRC. Also make time to visit the green roof and a huge solar panel array with four wind turbines.

To learn more about GBRC, visit For more information on COH sustainability efforts, visit

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Mailing Address:  City of Houston | P.O. Box 1562 | Houston, Texas 77251
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Council Members: Helena Brown • Jerry Davis • Ellen R. Cohen • Wanda Adams • Dave Martin • Al Hoang • Oliver Pennington • Edward Gonzalez • James G. Rodriguez • Mike Laster • Larry V. Green • Stephen C. Costello • Andrew C. Burks, Jr. • Melissa Noriega • C.O. “Brad” Bradford • Jack Christie
Controller: Ronald C. Green