County holds “Listening” Meeting with citizens

Residents hope county meeting in Highlands yields results

By David Taylor

Residents had an opportunity to give county officials their thoughts on what they’d like to see tax dollars spent on over the next five years at a public meeting in Highlands last Tuesday, Aug. 1. A dozen or so representatives from various county departments were on hand at the San Jacinto Community Center to answer questions and ask the community to vote on proposals to improve the Highlands area.

“We are in the beginning of our five-year Consolidated Plan process,” said Walter Peacock, assistant director of planning for Harris County Community Services Department.

The plan relates to entitlement funding for the county that comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“HUD requires us to have a consolidated plan that will either be for three or five years to talk about how we will fund different national objectives that has been spelled out by the department, and what projects we’re going to do over that time” Peacock explained.

He said over the next few weeks, they will gather information from county residents who will tell them what is most important to them as it relates to infrastructure, public facilities, safety, veteran services, homelessness and many more objectives.

“We will do one of these meetings in each one of the precincts and that will tell us what the community wants the most and allocate funds based on those comments,” he said.

From that, Peacock said they will be able to make goals and visions for public housing, water lines, infrastructure, and other projects asked for by residents including veteran services and housing.

Jerry Smith, a Highlands resident, walked through the exhibits and stopped at each to vote and give some suggestions that weren’t listed on the opinion boards.

Smith, who lives on the east side of the canal, was seeking a remedy to flooding.

“Nobody wants to flood. We were close to it during Harvey, but this ditch by my house has a lot of silt and dirt in it and needs to be cleaned out before the next storm,” he urged officials.

He fears he won’t be so lucky the next time around.

“I wonder where our tax dollars are being spent. We pay them, but we don’t see them being used. If you thought Cedar Bayou was bad in Harvey, wait for the next one,” he said.

While the meeting was primarily based on HUD requirements, Peacock said they still wanted to hear from the public about anything they wanted for their community.

“While we might not be able to help, what we could possibly do is leverage our resources with another department, another non-governmental organization, to help them meet that demand,” he said. “We don’t want to stifle anything that a community member would want to say or want to bring up related to any of the needs here.”

Entitlement fundings increase and decreases based upon a formula, which is related to how many low to moderate income people you have in your population and the total population at home. Peacock estimated their last entitlement was over $21 million but divided between the four precincts of Harris County.

The Annual Action Plan shows how the projects are divided out amongst the precincts through a request for proposal process.

David Suman, Geographic Information Systems analyst for Harris County, does a considerable amount of mapping for the county.

“We have a demographics dashboard here so if you scan the QR code, you can pull it up, and you can kind of look over what we call special geography like precincts or target areas for Harris County with general demographic information,” he said.

Funds won’t be expended until the plan has been formulated and approved by HUD.

Miss the meeting? There are several more planned over the month of August. Residents can also go online to take the survey. For comments via email, send them to


TUESDAY, AUG. 8, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. Pct. 4 Steve Radack Community Center 18650 Clay Road, Houston

THURSDAY, AUG. 17, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. Pct. 2 Martin Flukinger Community Center 16003 Lorenzo St., Channelview

THURSDAY, AUG. 24, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. Pct. 1 Tom Bass Community Center 15108 Cullen Blvd., Houston