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June 21, 2021

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SERVING NEIGHBORHOODS BULLETIN

TaKasha Francis Message

In this Issue: • Department of Neighborhoods Services • HPD Transparency Hub • HPD Metal Theft Unit • HIRE Houston Youth Job Opportunities • Extreme Summer Heat Safety • Hurricane Preparedness • COVID-19 Recovery Services • COVID-19 Rental Assistance • Winder Storm Home Repair Assistance • Community Support Services • Houston Public Works Engage Houston Website • Houston Public Library Summer Youth Programs

DEPARTMENT OF NEIGHBORHOODS SERVICES

IPS CALL CENTER
Do you have questions about a hearing notice, lien, code violation notice, or citation issued by the Department of Neighborhoods? Our Inspections and Public Service Call Center staff is here to assist you!

IPS Photo

Inspections & Public Service Call Center
Department of Neighborhoods
832-394-0600

To report code violations, however, residents are asked to 3-1-1, which is the City’s protocol for receiving and processing service requests.  Submitting your service request to 3-1-1 ensures that it will be promptly referred to the right department(s). Responding to requests often involves more than one department. City departments process service requests in the order received; however, priority may be given to urgent public safety situations.

Common Code Violations: Which departments are responsible for enforcing code compliance?

Residents often want to know which departments are responsible for the enforcement of certain city codes. Below is the most frequently requested information.

  • Single Family Residential Property Blight – Department of Neighborhoods
    The Department of Neighborhoods is responsible for code enforcement pertaining to single-family residential property, including duplexes and condos.  Our inspectors enforce codes addressing overgrown lots, building standards, dangerous vacant buildings, junk accumulation, junk motor vehicle and other nuisances as well as the proper placement and storage of trash bins. We also enforce codes that prohibit “bandit” signs on city property and right-of-way.
  • Illegal Dumping – Solid Waste Management Department
    The lead department for Illegal dumping issues is the Solid Waste Management Department. The Houston Police Department’s Environmental Investigations Unit investigates illegal dumping cases that may lead to filing of criminal charges against the perpetrators. The Department of Neighborhoods only assists with inspection of illegal dumping on private properties, not streets or other public right of ways.
  • Apartment and Commercial Building Issues – Houston Public Works
    Code enforcement pertaining to commercial buildings and apartments, including habitability concerns and permits, is handled by Houston Public Works.
FREE ONLINE WORKSHOPS ON LEGAL TOPICS

A Month of Service

We invite you to attend “A Month of Service” free online workshops covering a wide range of legal topics conducted by volunteer lawyers and subject experts. While this is a year-round monthly series, there are no workshops scheduled for July. The workshop series will resume in August.  Workshop topics include: Evictions – Know Your Rights, Inheriting Property, Clearing Title and Probate Concerns, Holographic Wills, Foreclosure Prevention and For Sale by Owner, Immigration Concerns, and First Time Homebuyers.

June Workshops

  • Coffee & Conversation with City representatives about neighborhood concerns, Wednesday, June 23, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Part II – Disaster Preparedness & Home Repair, Wednesday, June 23, 6-8 p.m.
  • Foreclosure Prevention & For Sale by Owner, Thursday, June 24, 1-3 p.m.

To register, go to www.bit.ly/AMOSworkshops and click on the date/session of interest or call 346-339-1088. Registrants without internet can participate in the workshops by phone.  All sessions are recorded and can be accessed at www.facebook.com/nrcdc.houston.

JOIN THE CITY’S CIVIC CLUB REGISTRY!

Civic Club Registry

HOUSTON IS BIG! If you participate in a civic club, make sure we have your club’s current information so we can refer neighbors to your meetings and share information about major projects in your neighborhood.  To add your civic club to the registry or update your current information, go to http://bit.ly/HouCivicClubs. For questions, call 832-393-0955. For information about Super Neighborhoods, the Super Neighborhood Alliance, civic groups and the work they do, go to https://www.houstontx.gov/ourneighborhoods/. The civic club registry is an initiative of the Mayor’s Assistance Office, a division of the Department of Neighborhoods.

SUBSCRIBE TO “NEIGHBORHOOD UPDATES”

Phone Messenging Service

We invite you to subscribe toNeighborhood Updates to receive phone voice or text messages in English or Spanish about essential city services and resources.  We especially invite seniors and others who may not have easy access to the internet, persons with disabilities who require communications by voice or text, and residents who prefer information in Spanish.

To subscribe to Neighborhood Updates, call 3-1-1. You will have the option of receiving voice messages or texts in English or Spanish. [English Flyer]  [Spanish Flyer]

POLICE TRANSPARENCY HUB ALLOWS THE PUBLIC
TO FILE COMPLAINTS

Police Transparency Hub

Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the launch of the City of Houston Police Transparency Hub on June 1, 2021, designed to make it easier for the public to file a complaint against a police officer and search information about the Houston Police Department’s encounters and demographics.  The online hub includes five dashboards that allow community members to access data, policies and other information related to Cite and Release, Use of Force, Traffic Stops, HPD Disciplinary Actions, and HPD Employee Diversity.

The hub allows members of the public to upload photos, videos, and other information about the encounter with a police officer. The complaint form is available in English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, French and Arabic. Complaints may be filed anonymously.

The Police Transparency Hub is responsive to recommendations submitted by the Mayor’s Task Force on Policing Reform. The City will be implementing other task force recommendations, including initiatives addressing crisis intervention and a new policy on the release of body-worn camera video.

The newly created Office of Policing Reform and Accountability, led by Deputy Inspector General Crystal Okorafor, will oversee the investigation of online complaints along with complaints from the Independent Police Oversight Board.

An individual may file a complaint online or with community organizations, including but not limited to the NAACP, LULAC, Anti-Defamation League, Islamic Society of Greater Houston, Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities, and the Mayor’s LGBTQ Task Force. The various community organizations will forward the complaints to the Office of Policing Reform and Accountability.

The Deputy Office of Inspector General will accept complaints in person at the Office of Policing Reform and Accountability, 900 Bagby St., 4th Floor 77002. Complaints may also be mailed to City of Houston, Office of Policing Reform and Accountability, P.O. Box 368, Houston, TX 77001-0368.  The office may be reached at 832-393-6772 or COH_Policing_Reform@houstontx.gov.

HPD METAL THEFT UNIT TO OFFER THEFT PREVENTION TIPS

PIP Graphic

Residents are invited to attend the Houston Police Department’s Positive Interaction Program (PIP) meeting, July 13, 7 p.m., at 1602 State Street. The meeting will feature a presentation by HPD’s Metal Theft Unit on the importance of the unit’s duties and responsibilities regulating the metal recyclers in the city. This presentation will include crime prevention tips on how to prevent catalytic converter and metal theft. ASL interpretation and captioning will be provided. The meeting will be streamed live on youtube.com/houstonpolice. For more information, contact HPD Officer James Sobota at 713-308-9079 or james.sobota@houstonpolice.org.

HIRE HOUSTON YOUTH PROGRAM ACCEPTING JOB APPLICATIONS

Hire Houston Youth

Mayor Sylvester Turner encourages young people ages 16 to 24 to apply for a position under the Hire Houston Youth program. While all positions with the City of Houston have been filled, nearly 1,000 jobs are available in the nonprofit and private sectors for year-round and summer opportunities.

EXTREME SUMMER HEAT SAFETY

Protect Yourself During Extreme Heat
The Houston Fire Department reminds residents to take safety measures when outdoors to avoid heat-related medical emergencies.  This includes making sure caregivers "Look Before They Lock" for children left in vehicles. Also remember that pets should never be left in a vehicle on a warm or hot day. The city is encouraging people to go to local libraries to stay cool.  For extreme heat safety tips, visit https://www.houstonoem.org/extreme-heat/.

Look Before You Lock

Know the Signs of Heat-related Illness

Heat Related Illness

City’s Heat Plan - Cooling Centers
During summer’s soaring temperatures, the City may activate cooling centers to help residents who may not have adequate air conditioning to stay safe. The centers, usually housed at libraries, recreation centers, multi-service centers and other facilities that are open to the public, are available during their normal business hours.  If extreme heat occurs over the weekend, hours at some facilities may be extended. To be notified when emergency cooling centers open, register for AlertHouston notifications at http://bit.ly/CitizensNet. To inquire about cooling centers, you may also call 3-1-1.

Free METRO Rides to Cooling Centers
When the City’s Heat Plan is in effect, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Houston/Harris County (METRO) will provide transportation free of charge to designated cooling centers for individuals who need them.  Residents who need transportation can call 311 or 713-837-0311 to request service.

Reliant’s Beat the Heat Program

Beat the Heat Graphic

Reliant's Beat the Heat air conditioner program helps eligible seniors, disabled individuals & families without means to cool their homes. For more information, call the Houston Harris County Area Agency on Aging at 832-393-4301.

HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS

Be Prepared for a Hurricane Emergency

Alert Houston

The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season is here, running June through November. Make sure your household is ready with an emergency plan and kit.  Sign up with receive emergency alerts at www.AlertHouston.org.

See the Houston Office of Emergency Management for more information. Get current weather conditions from the National Weather Service Houston-Galveston, and learn about hurricanes from the National Hurricane Center.

Have a Plan & Be Ready

Disaster Prep Guide

Have an emergency plan.  Assemble an emergency supplies kit. Include items such as food, water, medications, hygiene products, sanitation supplies, masks and disposable gloves, a flashlight, a portable radio, and batteries. Gather Important documents and secure them in a waterproof zip-lock bag or container. Check your home insurance policy, consider flood insurance, and strengthen your home. Check for any trees on your property that may need to be cut or trimmed. Talk to your neighbors about how you can help each other if needed.  For disaster preparedness guidance, go to www.houstonoem.org/hurricaneprepweek20/.

Evacuation Assistance for Eligible Residents

STEAR Graphic

Do you or anyone you know need some form of assistance during times of an emergency/disaster event? The State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) is a free registry that provides local emergency planners and responders with additional information on the needs in their community. People who anticipate they would need evacuation assistance can register with STEAR online at State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry or by calling 2-1-1.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Blind and Visually Impaired Community

Sight Into Sound

The Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM), in collaboration with the Houston Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities and Sight Into Sound, have developed emergency preparedness tips for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The messages are accessible 24/7 in English and Spanish at sightintosound.org. They are also being broadcast on Sight Into Sound Radio (KUHT-TV’s Channel 8.5) and KUHF-FM’s digital HD Channel.

COVID-19 RECOVERY RESOURCES

Official Website

For the latest COVID-19 updates on vaccinations, testing sites, contact tracing and recovery services, go to www.HoustonEmergency.org/covid19. The website includes a guide to COVID-19 resources for immigrants and refugees, available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Arabic, French, and English. To access the guide, click on the link here -- COVID-19 Multilingual Information.

አማርኛ  | Español | عربى | 中文 | دری | فارسی | Français | ဗမာ | پښتو | Kiswahili | ትግርኛ | Tiếng Việt

COVID-19 VACCINE

Take Your Best Shot

Houston Health Department Vaccination Sites
The Houston Health Department (HHD) and partner agencies offer the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccine at select community centers and other locations throughout the city.  Appointments are available and walk-ins are welcome.  For vaccination sites and hours of operation, visit www.houstonemergency.org/covid19.  To schedule an appointment, call the COVID-19 Call Center at 832-393-4220. For assistance with scheduling appointments, seniors can call the Area Agency on Aging at 832-393-4301, and people with disabilities can call the Aging & Disability Resource Center at 832-393-5500.

Pfizer Vaccine Appointments for Adults & Children Age 12+
People can make an appointment with Harris County Public Health (HCPH) for the Pfizer vaccine at NRG Park online at vacstrac.hctx.net or by calling the HCPH Vaccine Center at 832-927-8787. People without appointments are welcome from 12 noon to 9 p.m.

In-Home COVID-19 Vaccination
Free in-home COVID-19 vaccination is available to qualifying older adults, people with disabilities, and veterans.  Harris County residents who meet one of the following requirements are eligible for this in-home service:  80 years of age or older, bedbound, require ambulatory transport, have a disability, age 79 or younger with a medical condition, military veterans. To find out if you, a friend, or family member qualify, call the Houston Harris County Area on Aging at 832-393-4301.

Free METRO Rides to Vaccination Sites
METRO offers free rides to anyone traveling to or from a COVID-19 vaccination site within the METRO service area. Customers need to be prepared to present proof of their appointment or a vaccination card upon boarding. This free transportation includes local bus, METRORail, Park & Ride, METRORapid and METROLift services.

COVID-19 TESTING

Testing Sites Weekly Schedule
COVID-19 testing is free, fast, safe, and available to everyone, regardless of symptoms, at numerous sites throughout the city. You will not be asked for citizenship status or proof of insurance.  For a weekly schedule of Houston Health Department and agency partners testing locations, go to: www.houstonemergency.org/covid-19-testing.

In-Home COVID-19 Testing
The Houston Health Department is offering COVID-19 in-home testing. To qualify for this service, you must be a resident of Harris County. To find out how you, a family member or friend can receive this in-home service, call the Houston Harris County Area Agency on Aging at 832-393-4914 or 832-393-4528.

COVID-19 RENTAL ASSISTANCE

The Houston-Harris County Rental Assistance Program offers assistance to renters in Harris County or the City of Houston who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, are experiencing housing instability, and whose household income is at or below 80% of Area Median Family Income.  Funds under the program are being distributed by BakerRipley and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
To apply for tenant rental assistance and for landlord enrollment in the program, go to www.HoustonHarrisHelp.org. Any rental property within the City of Houston or Harris County may participate.  Landlords interested in registering their property will need to enroll and agree to the terms of the program. For questions, call 832-402-7568, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

INTER STORM HOME REPAIR ASSISTANCE
Many residents are still struggling to recover from the winter freeze. The Connective’s 2021 Winter Storm Home Repair Program helps Houston and Harris County residents impacted by the February storm and whose income is less than 80 percent of the area median income. The median income for a family of four is $63,350. The program is funded by the Houston-Harris County Winter Storm Relief Fund and Fort Bend Recovers. To apply for home repair assistance, complete the Connective Home Repair Application at www.connectivetx.org/winterstorm/home-repair. Residents who do not have access to technology to fill out the application may contact The Alliance at 346-396-6903 for assistance.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT SERVICES

Food Assistance

The Houston Food Bank provides food assistance through its many affiliated agencies and pantries across the region. For a map of food distribution locations, go to www.houstonfoodbank.org/find-help/agency-locator/.  For other sources of food assistance, visit https://houstonrecovers.org/covid19food/.

Legal Assistance

The Houston Bar Association’s LegalLine provides free basic legal advice and helpful resources on the first and third Wednesday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. To sign up for a time slot, go to www.hba.org/legalline or call 713-759-1133. You must register 24 hours in advance.

Consejos Legales offers free consultations in Spanish on the first Thursday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. Volunteer attorneys provide basic legal advice referrals to helpful resources. Callers may register online for a 20-minute appointment no later than a day in advance at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904084ba9ad23aafc1-consejos.  Consejos Legales is a service of the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston and the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston in partnership with the Houston Bar Association.

Información en español: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904084ba9ad23aafc1-consejos.

Financial Counseling

The City’s Financial Empowerment Centers offer free one-to-one financial counseling to Houston residents. The services are provided by the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities. Seek guidance on to how to manage your money, pay down debt, increase savings, establish credit and more. To make an appointment, go to www.houstontx.gov/fec.

Domestic Violence Counseling

Help Graphic

The Houston Area Women’s Center 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline offers free confidential assistance to survivors of domestic violence.  To reach the hotline, call 713-528-2121 or TTY-713-528-3625.  For more information, go to https://www.domesticshelters.org/help/tx/houston/77019/houston-area-women-s-center.

The Alliance Wellness Clinic offers counseling for survivors of domestic violence and abusive partners. The clinic’s 24/7 Mental Health Helpline is staffed with multilingual counselors. To reach the helpline, call 855-699-8800. For more information, visit wellness@thealliancetx.org.

HOUSTON PUBLIC WORKS LAUNCHES 'ENGAGE HOUSTON' WEBSITE

Houston Public Works Logo

Houston Public Works has launched EngageHouston.org, a public engagement website designed to make it easier to find information about improvement projects in Houston. The website streamlines real-time delivery of information about drainage, street, water, and wastewater projects and facilitates feedback and questions from the public. Users have the option to sign up for updates via mail, email, phone, or text message. The community is invited to set up an account and send feedback regarding current projects.

HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY - SUMMER YOUTH PROGRAMS!

Houston Public Library Logo

The Houston Public Library (HPL) invites you to engage your children, teens and tweens in free summer programs and activities. Below is a listing of summer offerings.

Virtual Summer Reading Program
Participants will be entered into weekly drawings to win prizes by reading and logging in at least one (1) day a week. Prizes are available while supplies last.  To register, click on link: houstonlibrary.beanstack.com/reader365.

Virtual Live Performances
For details, go to houstonlibrary.org/events.

Author Events
Monthly author events that will feature an author via a Zoom or Facebook Live conversation from June through August 2021. Registration maybe required.

Activity Boxes 
Looking for more hands-on programs? Check out HPL’s activity boxes at houstonlibrary.org/fun.

Virtual Youth Book Clubs
Reading lists were created by public and school librarians from across Texas. Participants will receive a copy of each month’s title, which is theirs to keep, and an activity prompt. Participants will be invited to attend a monthly virtual meeting to discuss the book with peers. Registration is required and space is limited.  To register, go to houstonlibrary.org/events.

Teen Summer Clubs

  • 8-Bit Video Game Club - Physically and digitally design, draft, and create an original 8-bit video game from scratch using Bloxels! Registration required. Ages 9-18
  • Stop Motion Film Club - Learn how to create original stop motion videos using a StikBot mini green screen, action figure, and your phone. Registration required. Ages 9-18
  • Get Graphic - Teen Comic Creation Contest:  Are you an artist? Are you into creating comic-style short stories? Here’s your chance to show off your talent! Enter by August 31, 2021.

QuaranTeen Zine
Houston youth ages 13 -18 will share their experiences during the COVID-19 Pandemic, have their work promoted, and see their writing added to HPL’s collection.

TV2 Teen Virtual Volunteer Program
Teens ages 16-18 will create digital content for HPL to be shared on social media in exchange for volunteer time.

Other Offerings

  • Boxed Activities for Tweens & Teens to complete a craft or STEM activity
  • Book Boxes with a surprise inside
  • Game Boxes sent to HPL To Go location of choice on request
  • Teen Take ‘n Makes (puzzles, sand art, DIY postcards, sun paper, pop art bracelets & more) for pickup at HPL To Go locations

For more details, visit houstonlibrary.org or call 832-393-1313.

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