Houston, Harris County appoint ‘Recovery Czars’ to lead relief from Covid-19 crisis

HARRIS COUNTY – April 20, 2020, County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Monday selected State Representative Armando Walle to lead the COVID19 pandemic relief and recovery effort on her behalf. As Harris County COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Czar, Rep. Walle is tasked with leading the effort to drive the region’s economic recovery. He will join the Houston relief and recovery Czar in this effort and jointly they will convene community and government stakeholders as necessary.

“State Rep. Walle is uniquely positioned to build consensus across Harris County’s diverse communities to help our region emerge from the COVID-19 disaster. As a leader in the state Legislature on issues of health, safety, and the economic well being of families, he’s a champion for the important priorities that we want to make sure are in the forefront of this relief and recovery effort,” Judge Hidalgo said. “Like the rest of the world, Harris County will not be the same when this crisis abates. But with inclusive, fast and coordinated planning, we will build an economy and a social services network that gives every resident the tools they need to thrive once again.”

A Harris County native, Rep. Walle is a graduate of the University of Houston School of Law and has served in the Texas Legislature since 2009. Rep. Walle serves on the Business and Industry Committee, serves as Vice Chair of the Land & Resource Management Committee, and serves on the Federalism & Fiscal Responsibility Committee.

“While we are in the midst of a public health crisis, it is critical for our decision-making to be driven by data and the judgment of our public health experts on how those decisions impact the people of the greater Houston region,” Rep. Walle said Monday. “We need to work together on an inclusive recovery that responsibly ensures the health and economic well being of the people of Harris County. We need to save lives, and also save livelihoods.”

Rep. Walle will work with a wide variety of regional stakeholders in this effort, including private sector, philanthropy, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, and local governments.

The goals of the effort will be to build a relief and recovery effort that is:

Inclusive: Ensure a widespread recovery including every sector of society and geographic area including small businesses, workers (including undocumented workers), food distribution, and access to education.

Fast: Acknowledging a full recovery will take years, take action to alleviate red tape or other obstacles in the way of progress.

Coordinated: Facilitate a coordinated effort to leverage state and federal recovery resources, maximize local and regional resources, and work with city and regional governments to achieve results.

House District 140, which Rep. Walle represents, includes portions of north Houston and unincorporated portions of north Harris County, including parts of the Northside and Aldine communities. After those areas were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Walle championed a bill requiring the Health and Human Services Commission to coordinate with county judges to more rapidly deploy Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits during a disaster. During the 86th Texas Legislative Session, Walle also authored and passed a bill that established a grant program to help food banks respond to increased demand after a disaster.

Rep. Walle is currently a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, serving as Vice Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III (public and higher education) and as a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State Infrastructure, Resiliency, and Investment.