The County Connection

Lina Hidalgo | Harris County Judge

June 2021
Since the COVID-19 virus was first detected in Harris County, we have been working non-stop to beat it. We stayed home, wore our masks, maintained social distance, and sacrificed many, many moments with friends and family. When safe, effective vaccines became available, Harris County Public Health rushed to acquire and distribute them equitably, establishing over 100 vaccination sites, including a mega distribution site at NRG stadium that has become a model for the nation. Many of our residents are getting vaccinated, moving us closer to a place where COVID-19 is no longer a major threat to vulnerable populations and our hospital capacity. Thanks to all of this hard work, we have made substantial progress in turning a corner against this virus. 
Last week, based on this progress and the meeting of the relevant thresholds, I moved the county’s COVID-19 Threat Level from Level 2: Orange to Level 3: Yellow, the system’s second-lowest threat level. We should all be proud of reaching this significant milestone. Under the Yellow threat level, unvaccinated individuals should continue to mask and social distance. Fully vaccinated individuals, however, may resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where otherwise required.
We are making considerable strides, but our success is fragile. From the beginning of this crisis, data and public health expertise have driven our policies and the guidance we provide the community on how to stay safe. And the data tells us our numbers are still high, that people are still getting sick and dying. While we have come a long way, this is not a mission accomplished moment. But we should feel encouraged that vaccinations are safe, effective, and are preventing deaths, hospitalizations, and the spread of the virus. 
So don’t wait. Go get vaccinated. And if you’ve already gotten your shots, help us by getting anyone you know who hasn’t to NRG Park. Come by Tuesday thru Sunday between noon and 7 p.m. — there’s no need for an appointment. You can find more information at or contact us at 832-927-8787. Let’s continue to pull together to persuade friends, family members, and others to do their part and get vaccinated. Let’s make it to Green and beat COVID-19 once and for all.
Lina Hidalgo

County News


Hurricane Season is Here

Another hurricane season is upon us, and now is the time to make sure you are prepared for whatever storm the next six months may bring. Watch Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo outline the four essential steps to protecting your family and your property. For more information and resources for hurricane season, visit  

Bill Targeting Harris County Voter Rights Fails to Advance

This past weekend, Texas legislators killed SB7, the most suppressive voter suppression bill in the nation. By staging a walkout as a united front, members broke quorum with an hour to spare — a remarkable, difficult action and the only one that would have kept this bill from passing. It’s no secret that this bill was a direct attack on Harris County, our voters, and our communities. SB7 was the result of the “big lie” that falsely claims widespread voter fraud is occurring in Texas and throughout the nation. Many lawmakers have used this lie to delegitimize the record turnout at the polls that was a direct result of our innovative efforts to make voting in Harris County more accessible and safe than it has ever been. 
Last election, our voting laws served as a national model for how local governments can
provide increased and secure access to the ballot box. We tripled the number of early voting locations, extended voting hours and added a day of 24-hour voting, implemented drive thru voting, and used county-wide voting centers so that people could vote at any location on election day. The reforms we implemented in 2020 gave all kinds of eligible workers easier access to the polls. We had the highest turnout in a generation and almost 70% of registered voters voted. SB7 would have limited voting hours and completely eliminated 24-hour and drive-thru voting, shutting out thousands of voters such as first responders and medical workers who work nontraditional hours. It would have created laws that would make it a felony to supply residents vote-by-mail applications if they haven’t requested one and allow for poll watchers to be present throughout the voting day, possibly intimidating and harassing voters. It would have lowered the legal standard for elections to be overturned and would have ordered polls shut before 1 p.m. on Sundays — when many African American churches conduct “Souls to the Polls” initiatives.
While the legislation has been defeated for now, there will likely be a special Texas legislative session later this summer to attempt to pass some form of this voter suppression legislation. Our fight continues.

New Eviction Intervention Program Helps Families Facing Homelessness Avoid Evictions

Though employers are gradually rebuilding their ranks, many people remain unemployed and/or significantly behind on rent from the months their workplaces were closed due to the pandemic. The new $8 million Eviction Intervention Program, a division of the Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), will work to divert eviction cases out of court, helping families avoid imminent homelessness and landlords recover overdue rent. The program will be run by The Alliance, a nonprofit agency helping refugees, immigrants, and underserved residents.   
Tenants can apply for the Eviction Intervention Program by submitting an application for the Houston-Harris County Rental Relief Fund at The application will ask if they have received a notice to vacate or a court summons, and, if so, requests the docket number. Qualifying applications will be automatically referred to the Eviction Intervention Program. Tenants who do not qualify for eviction intervention but who are still struggling financially because of pandemic-related wage reductions are still encouraged to apply to the Houston-Harris County Rental Relief Fund. The application portal remains open, and tens of millions of dollars in relief are still available. As of May 26, the Rental Relief Fund has pledged and paid over $84 million to 23,146 tenants in need of assistance. 
Eligible applicants to the Eviction Intervention Program must already have a docket number (or case number), cannot earn more than the income threshold (80% of area median income), and must prove pandemic-related financial impact. Both tenant and landlord must agree to participate. The Eviction Intervention Program offers up to six months of rent. You can view the eligibility requirements and FAQs, submit documents, and find other resources related to the Eviction Intervention Program and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program at In addition, a phone line is available at 832-402-7568 six days a week: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Harris County Extends Commitment to Houston Food Bank to Fight Food Insecurity During Pandemic

Harris County Commissioner’s Court has approved extending a contract with the Houston Food Bank to provide county workers and funding to purchase and distribute food for Harris County families in need. The contract was originally meant to last until July and will now be extended until September and provide an additional $2.6 million in funding. Funds provided are reimbursable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). From March 2020 to March of 2021 the Houston Food Bank has provided food to an average of 131,683 households each week which is an increase of 85% from the year prior. 

Harris County to Begin Tracking Catalytic Converter Serial Numbers to Prevent Thefts

Harris County will be tracking essential pieces of your car that have become a target for thieves during the past year. Local catalytic converter thefts are up more than 400 percent and have mainly targeted Toyota Sequoias, Tundras, and Priuses because these vehicles have two catalytic converters. Catalytic converters contain precious metals, including platinum and rhodium, and local thieves have been able to get between $50 and $875 for converters and converter parts at recycling centers. Last month, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and the Commissioner’s Court took action to stop this crime wave in our region by passing new regulations requiring metal recyclers to verify the origin of the converter and upload serial numbers to a law enforcement database, making it much more difficult for thieves to profit from their thefts by selling the stolen converters to metal recyclers in the unincorporated areas of Harris County.

George Floyd Pardoned Posthumously for Illegitimate Drug Charge, Harris County Honors George Floyd Day on June 9th

As a nation, we have collectively grieved for the loss of George Floyd and were outraged at the injustices committed against him. Though nothing can change the tragic circumstances of his murder, Harris County Commissioners Court last month passed a resolution supporting his posthumous pardon for a 2004 drug conviction concerning the alleged sale of $10 of crack cocaine. The primary evidence in the conviction of this drug case solely relied on singular testimony by former Houston Police Detective Gerald Goines. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has since reviewed and dropped hundreds of cases linked to former officer Goines’ involvement and testimonies, and court investigation of cases involving former officer Goines’ testimony have already resulted in vacated convictions. Due to his death, Floyd is unable to advocate for himself in this case and file a post-conviction writ of habeas corpus issuing a false evidence claim, and, therefore, the Harris Public Defender’s Office submitted an application for a full pardon on behalf of Mr. Floyd and his family. The County District Attorney agrees that these circumstances warrant a posthumous pardon. We will continue to fight for justice and fair treatment by our legal system for every Harris County resident.
This month in Harris County we honor the memory of Mr. Floyd and the movement against racial discrimination and police brutality sparked by his tragic death. Last year, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo declared June 9th George Floyd Day. The date marks the one year anniversary of Mr. Floyd’s memorial service. 

Harris County Commissioners Court Passes Resolution in Support of Transgender Youth

Despite pressing concerns like Texas’ faltering energy grid and a global pandemic, 
Texas lawmakers have recently focused their efforts on limiting the rights of transgender children. More than two dozen discriminatory bills were considered in the Texas Legislature this past session targeting young transgender people, part of a wave of anti-transgender bills across the country. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo last month presented Commissioners Court with a resolution opposing any such anti-trans bills, and will continue to support inclusivity for all people in Harris County.

Commissioner’s Court Approves Resolution to Urge Medicaid Expansion in Texas

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner’s Court last month approved a resolution encouraging the State of Texas to expand access to Medicaid to individuals who don’t qualify for either Medicaid or Obamacare. While Obamacare expanded access to Medicaid for people who have incomes above their state’s eligibility threshold but still below the poverty line, the Supreme Court ruled that states could choose to not expand Medicaid. Medicaid eligibility for adults in states that did not expand their programs is very limited –the median income threshold for parents in these states is the equivalent of an annual income of $8,905 for a family of three in 2020. Nearly all childless adults remain ineligible. About 1.4 million more Texans would become eligible for Medicaid coverage if the state were to expand its program, and about 75% of them would be people of color, according to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Almost 20% of Texans lack health insurance.

Upcoming Events


Upcoming Commissioners Court Meetings

As part of the County Judge’s Office initiative to make local government more transparent and accessible, we invite you to get involved by viewing Commissioners Court meetings. You can check here to see the meeting schedule, and watch the official close captioned livestream here or on the Judge’s homepage here.

Upcoming Flood Control Bond Project Meetings

Harris County never stops preparing for the next big storm. And while the 2018 Harris County Flood Control District Bond Program is in full swing, we continue to seek input from community members as we implement projects in watersheds across the County. If you have a comment about a particular project, we invite you to attend the corresponding virtual meeting and be part of the planning process. Learn more about upcoming 2018 Bond Program Community Engagement Meetings here.

Hazardous Waste Collection Appointments

Do you have unwanted household hazardous items? Properly dispose of them by making an appointment with the Household Hazardous Waste Collections facility at 6900 Hahl Road in Houston. Appointments are available each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and during the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Learn what items are accepted and make an appointment here.
About Judge Hidalgo
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is the head of Harris County’s governing body and Director of the Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Judge Hidalgo, alongside four County Precinct Commissioners, oversees a budget of approximately $5 billion that funds services and institutions for the third-largest county in the nation, home to nearly 5 million people.
For more information about Harris County and the Office of the County Judge, click here.