The County Connection
Lina Hidalgo | Harris County Judge

August 2022

I have long been an advocate and a champion for programs that enrich the lives and secure a brighter future for Harris County children. Since taking office, my staff and I have been expanding the possibilities of what Harris County can achieve to help families. We spoke to parents and early childhood providers and experts and held community conversations in person and virtually, during which access to affordable, quality childcare was brought up again and again. We found that approximately 105,000 children with working parents under the age of three in Harris County live in a “quality child care desert,” in which there are few or no affordable options for quality child care. This, despite the numerous studies that show high-quality child care is linked to higher rates of educational attainment and adult employment, and lower drug use and criminal outcomes. To improve the quality of life for Harris County residents, investing in quality childcare for young children was simply something the data obliged us to try.

In June, Harris County Commissioners Court made history by approving a new program investing $48 million American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds for childcare and early childhood development in Harris County. It is the largest known investment of ARPA dollars by any county or city in the nation for early childhood education. The program will increase accessibility to high quality childcare and early childhood development by 10% in Harris County and create up to 1,000 child care slots for children ages zero to three, with an emphasis on communities where there are few to no such options. It will help families afford child care, which is the second most expensive household item on average after housing in the family budget. The program will also help childcare centers recover and stabilize financially after the pandemic, support ongoing capacity-building for childcare providers, give a boost to workers by requiring participating childcare centers to pay staff $15 an hour, and help mothers with newfound childcare return to work.

This historic program is not our first effort to assist families and children. Harris County invested nearly $9 million in an Early Childhood Impact Fund, which is supporting home-based child care businesses, infant/toddler literacy, and resources for foster children. The county has also established the $4.7 million COVID-19 Childcare Assistance Program to provide families with learning and childcare opportunities during the pandemic. The County created a Child Tax Credit engagement program that brought in over $13 million in tax credits for Harris County families, and we also implemented best-in-class family-friendly workplace policies for County workers, including 12 weeks paid parental leave, additional sick leave and resources for finding child care. And I am proud to say that in July, Commissioners Court approved a $7.7 million Maternal and Child Home Visitation Health Care Initiative for 300 of the most vulnerable mothers in Harris County (read more about this below).

All levels of government must be willing to assist in nurturing every child that is born. I am proud that Harris County has set a precedent for what local governments can do to support all of their residents and help them make a better future.


Lina Hidalgo

County News


Harris County Approves a $7.7 Million Plan to Invest ARPA Funds Towards Maternal and Child Health Care Initiative

Becoming a new mother should be a special time in a woman’s life, but many women in Harris County lack the necessary resources and access to best care for their own and their baby’s health. Harris County Commissioners Court in July unanimously approved the Maternal and Child Health Program, an evidence-based home visitation program that aims to improve and expand access to health care for Harris County mothers and children. In particular, it will address the alarming rates of maternal mortality among African American women in Harris County, who are three times more likely to die than the national average and 10 times more likely to die compared to women overall in industrialized countries.

The home visitation program will match approximately 300 moms and their children in four cohorts lasting about two years each, and will guide them through the process of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. The coordinators will provide these mothers with all of the support they need to be safe and healthy during a very vulnerable time in their lives. Visits will include wellness checks, prenatal care, and connections to healthcare and other needed services. This program will also serve children directly by connecting them to health care at an early age to ensure that critical early developmental health milestones are reached and any conditions that arise are caught and treated early.


Harris County Votes to Expand Access to Family Planning and Women’s Health Programs, Passes Resolution Condemning Overturn of Roe v. Wade

Every person in Harris County and across this nation should be entitled to make decisions about their bodies, health, and future. In June, the United States Supreme Court decided to strip women of this right by handing the determination of the legality of abortion to state government. In response to this devastating decision and Texas’ subsequent trigger law banning abortion, Harris County Commissioners Court last month voted to seek ways to legally increase access to affordable family planning and women’s health programs in Harris County.

Judge Lina Hidalgo and fellow Commissioners requested the Court Analyst’s Office, Intergovernmental and Global Affairs, and other relevant departments find opportunities for Harris County to provide adequate, affordable contraception, health education and other programs critical to the safety and wellbeing of Harris County women and families. The Court also passed a resolution that supported a woman’s right to decide whether, when, and with whom she has children is essential to gender equality and stated that no one should have to live in fear of prosecution for seeking medical care, providing care for others, or supporting friends and family who seek care. Read the Judge’s statement below:

“After nearly 50 years of progress, Roe v. Wade has been overturned and the state’s trigger law takes effect in a matter of weeks, making abortions in Texas a felony. Neither will stop abortions, they will just make them less safe. The functional banning of abortions is an extreme position that will force those seeking help into the shadows. And with it will come dire consequences for many women in Harris County.

We know those who are met with an unplanned pregnancy face a number of challenges and any disadvantages like economic or educational circumstances are exacerbated when one is left without services to support their safety and wellbeing.

My office will continue to work towards the health and safety of women. Whether that is through identifying affordable family planning, or expanding women’s health programs, we will find ways to be a resource for high quality care and provide support during this major setback in our nation.

As the only woman on Harris County Commissioners Court, I feel an obligation to give a voice to the millions of women in our county and to assure them I’ll seek ways to help them navigate and survive in this post Roe v. Wade era. I will also not allow extreme politics to shame or diminish their lives by keeping them from resources needed to survive under our state’s extreme abortion-ban.”


Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Urges Residents to Remain Vigilant for Monkeypox

The Monkeypox virus is spreading rapidly across the world and many countries are now facing high case rates. The World Health Organization has now deemed Monkeypox a Global Health Emergency. Texas has the sixth highest case count in the United States with 220 cases. As of July 25, Harris County has confirmed 57 cases. Monkeypox can look like a pimple or blister, or a rash and lesion. In some cases, just a few small bumps can be the first indication of an infection – before any symptoms are felt. If you notice any new rashes, pimples, or blisters anywhere on your body, including in your mouth, it is important to get checked out and tested. While certain groups are at higher risk – we know from nationwide cases that men, particularly men who have sex with men (MSM), have been disproportionately impacted so far – anyone can get Monkeypox including children and the elderly. While cases remain low in the region, city and county officials remain vigilant and prepared, and urge residents to take some simple precautions to curb the spread:

  • Limit intimate and sexual contact with anonymous partners.
  • If you have new/unknown lesions, assume it is Monkeypox and get tested.
  • Get the vaccine, if you qualify.

For support with testing and vaccines, call 832-927-0707, or visit


Free COVID Vaccines Now Available for Children Six Months and Older

While Harris County is still in yellow, many in our county are still contracting the COVID-19 virus, suffering from symptoms, and having to quarantine. And while children do not face the same risk from COVID as adults, we have had over 15,000 Harris County children contract COVID. Thankfully, families now have the ability to protect themselves better than ever by signing up kids ages 6 months to 5 years for the FDA-approved Pfizer and Moderna pediatric vaccinations, and now is the time to get children vaccinated before school starts in the fall and cases are likely to rise. Harris County Public Health is administering “little pediatric” vaccines at all 20 vaccination sites across the county, free of charge, for walk-ins and appointment holders. Parents can talk to their pediatricians if they have questions. Visit or call 832-927-8787 to schedule an appointment for you and/or your child.

Harris County Public Health to Launch a Wide-Scale Effort to Reduce Nuisance Properties Across the County

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) will begin a sweeping effort to create safer, healthier and more sustainable neighborhoods across the County. Harris County Commissioners Court approved the initiative in July to abate or demolish properties deemed nuisances that pose a risk to public health. Examples of neighborhood nuisances include accumulated rubbish, standing water, conditions that harbor insects and rodents, abandoned swimming pools, high weeds and dilapidated structures.

“We’ve heard from the community that, too often, abandoned structures can be havens for criminal behavior,” said Harris County Judge Hidalgo. “I’m proud to support this initiative, as part of our historic, multifaceted approach to tackle crime and work toward a more vibrant Harris County.”

The Court approved HCPH to address 18 nuisance properties as part of a $3 million American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) fund to support HCPH’s Neighborhood Nuisance Abatement (NNA) Program. The Court’s approval of these properties is the first step of a four-year plan to abate 1,100 nuisances in the county through the ARPA funds, which were awarded to the NNA program last February.


Harris County Enacts Countywide Burn Ban

Upon the recommendation of the Fire Marshal, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Court enacted a countywide burn ban in unincorporated areas of Harris County effective June 28th for a minimum of 90 days due to continued drought conditions. The Burn ban will not affect firework sales or outdoor grilling, but residents are urged to use extreme caution when cooking outdoors. A small spark or burning ember can ignite dry vegetation, and winds fan flames and spread fire rapidly. The County will be monitoring rainfall levels and will consider ending the ban if recommended by the Harris County Office of Emergency Management and the County Fire Marshal. For more information on the burn ban visit the Harris County Fire Marshal’s webpage here.

Get Ready for the 2026 FIFA World Cup!

Harris County, are we ready for some soccer?!?! We are thrilled that Houston has been selected as a host city for the FIFA 2026 North America World Cup, in Harris County’s own NRG Stadium! Our community is a transportation hub with world-class infrastructure that has hosted the Superbowl, the World Series, the MLS Cup, so we are ready to welcome this international event, teams, and committed fans to Harris County! With 48 teams, this 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the largest ever and take place June to July in three countries – USA, Mexico, and Canada. Houston is expected to host five to six matches at NRG Stadium. When matches are not being played in Houston, we will be hosting other public events and viewing parties. Beyond the excitement of the events and games, the World Cup is estimated to have an economic impact of $800 million to $1.3 billion on our region. Welcome FIFA!

Harris County Orders Agencies to Conduct Youth Gun Violence Study

2020 marked a grim milestone – gun-related injuries became the number one cause of death for children. By June 1st of this year, 19 children had died as a result of gun violence in Harris County. That is unacceptable. Our recently established Gun Violence Interruption Program and Youth Reinvestment Fund programs are an important start to tackling this issue, but we need a comprehensive picture of who this is impacting, where in the County they are, what the root causes are, and what are the best, smartest, ways to tackle this crime.

Last month, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Court directed the Commissioners Court’s Analyst’s Office to work with the Justice Administration Department, the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, and any other government or research entities to evaluate and draft a report on the frequency, location, and causes of youth gun violence in Harris County from 2015 to the present. The report will include the most effective, evidence-based policy solutions to address and prevent youth gun violence and deaths of children due to gun violence and will require County researchers to consult with relevant stakeholders and consider the creation of a youth council or gun violence task force. While this doesn’t replace the need for gun reform, it is an essential step in protecting Harris County residents – particularly youth – from gun violence. Harris County will continue to push our state & federal leaders for meaningful and common sense gun laws, we in Harris County will continue to do everything we can to protect our residents and our children from gun violence.


Harris County Approves Gun Violence Resolution Urging Action from the Texas Government

As incessant gun violence continues to disrupt everything from everyday activities to Fourth of July celebrations, devastating communities and families, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Court approved a resolution calling for a special session of the Texas State Legislature to address gun violence and school safety. Read the resolution here.

Harris County Approves Partnership with Baylor College of Medicine’s Teen Health Clinic to Provide HIV Prevention Services

Education is the key to success, and the same goes for building knowledge around health, sex, and sexually transmitted diseases. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Court last month approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Harris County and Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic to provide education and awareness of HIV prevention and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) services to adolescents and young adults in the Harris County communities. The MOU will link care, education, and awareness to the services that are provided by Harris County Public Health’s (HCPH) HIV Prevention Program. In addition to STD and HIV/AIDS education and screening, the Baylor College of Medicine’s Teen Health Clinic provides pregnancy testing, family planning, primary healthcare, and case management services to teens, their partners, and children in Harris County using outreach workers and community educators.

New Neighbor-to-Neighbor

Energy Program Will Provide up to $700 in Electric Bill Assistance for Needy Direct Energy Customers

When times are tough and money is tight, some Harris County residents may have trouble paying their bills. To ensure residents have someone to turn to if they are at risk of losing electricity, the Harris County Community Services Department (CSD) has formed a partnership with Direct Energy, a local Retail Electricity Provider, to implement Neighbor-to-Neighbor, an emergency utility assistance program, with no cost to the County.

Under the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program, Direct Energy will provide funding for payment of electric home energy expenses of people experiencing an energy emergency or crisis, while the CSD will act as the administering agency of the Program, authorized to receive customers’ information from Direct Energy and make payments on behalf of its energy-vulnerable customers. Direct Energy customers who require assistance to pay electric bills due to an energy emergency or crisis are eligible for the program, and customers can receive up to $700 in assistance annually.


Harris County to Donate Outdated Safety Equipment to Ukraine Troops

Harris County supports the sovereignty of the nation of Ukraine and their fight for peace. So, our Harris County Fire Marshal was happy to comply when the Daar Charitable Foundation requested supplies to assist and aid Ukrainian troops as part of the Texas Law Enforcement for Ukraine initiative. Harris County was able to provide old and out-of-service ballistic body armor equipment, which includes 52 sets of complete set armor, 15 each of individual panels, and 16 each of empty carriers. The equipment will go to Ukrainian civilian volunteers and territorial defense. The Daar Charitable Foundation has operated a US-based nonprofit entirely focused on Ukraine for 20 years. With their extensive connections in Ukraine, they aim to provide aid to those Ukrainians remaining in-country, currently in conflict zones.

Upcoming Events


Precinct One Gun BuyBack

As part of the One Safe Houston initiative, Harris County Precinct One will be hosting a Gun Buyback event on July 30, 2022 at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church (3826 Wheeler Avenue) from 8:00 a.m. to noon. Residents can turn in non-functioning firearms in exchange for $50 gift cards, rifles or shotguns for $100 gift cards, handguns for $150 gift cards, and automatic rifles for $200 gift cards. For more information, visit or call 832-393-6772. Stay tuned for more Harris County gun buyback 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. 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.