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Houston’s Response to 2020 Census Crucial for Next Decade

Published Mar 31, 2020 by Kelsey Seeker

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Houstonians are approaching a deadline that will affect the region’s federal funding for schools, hospitals, roads and other crucial programs for the next decade.  

The 2020 Census counts every person in the United States and then determines congressional representation, federal funding and important data for each state and region.  

With COVID-19 forcing social distancing measures and delaying in-person outreach, the region's already challenging situation of accounting for historically hard-to-count populations is being exacerbated. 

Harris County Response Rate 

Ahead of Census Day on April 1, Harris County is trending behind the state and national average in the census count. 

While the Census deadline isn’t until July, the beginning of April marks an important milestone in a region’s response. 

As the greater Houston region responds to both the COVID-19 health crisis as well as the economic downturn, participation in the Census is more crucial than ever. Underrepresentation could mean fewer federal dollars for many Texas public services. 

The Monetary Value of the Census 

The results of the 2010 Census granted $101.6 billion to federal spending programs in Texas distributed by state and local governments, businesses, nonprofits, hospitals and households. 

To give a few examples of how funding is distributed - nearly 25% of all of the Census-guided education funds to Texas went to the greater Houston region. Based off the 2010 Census, the state received $1.4 billion in Title I grants to local education agencies and the region received more than $346 million.   

The Gulf Coast region also received 25.6% of the state’s share for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to find jobs and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. 

Additionally, Census data is a crucial part of emergency response and recovery efforts that take place after natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey, informing the federal government where specific resources should be deployed, and allowing helping emergency planners to prepare for the potential impact of weather events. 

Ensuring our region receives its adequate share of federal funds requires participation in the 2020 Census, which supports bringing opportunity for all Houstonians. 

How to Improve the Region’s Response 

While efforts to complete the Census have been hampered by COVID-19, responses are still accepted in one of three ways: online, by phone or by mail.   

The U.S. Census is critical to the continued growth of society, providing critical data used by lawmakers, business owners and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for communities. 

For resources and information on how your company can support 2020 Census participation, click here

Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information. And sign up for daily email alerts from the Partnership as the situation develops. 

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COVID-19 Public Policy Update: April 8, 2020

4/8/20
In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Partnership will provide a daily update on public policies and other newsworthy items from local, state and national levels of government. Executive Summary  All levels of government continue to implement economic and public health policies to respond to COVID-19. At the federal level, CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced $30 billion from the $100 billion allocated to hospitals in the CARES Act will be disbursed this week. Hospitals will receive the funding based on the individual hospital’s Medicare revenue. While Congress is in recess, negotiations, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have begun on a fourth phase for the coronavirus recovery package. Despite earlier discussions of this phase being focused on infrastructure, Speaker Pelosi has recently indicated the package will be like the recently passed CARES Act and focus on small business assistance, direct payments to Americans, and funding for public health. At the state level, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission will temporarily close all state parks and historical sites to strengthen social distancing measures. At the local level, Harris County Commissioners Court approved an agreement with Houston-Galveston Area Council for a Small Business Economic Assistance Loan Program in response to COVID-19. The program aims to help businesses impacted by the pandemic by offering zero-interest, forgivable loans up to $25,000 to meet ordinary and necessary operating expenses and obligations.  Federal Phase 4 Recovery Package – “CARES Act 2”  While Congress is in recess, negotiations, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have begun on a fourth phase for the coronavirus recovery package.  Despite earlier discussions of this phase being focused on infrastructure, Speaker Pelosi has recently indicated the package will be like the recently passed CARES Act and focus on small business assistance, direct payments to Americans, and funding for public health.  It is anticipated the bill will be on the House floor on April 20th, when Congress is expected to return to Washington, D.C.  CARES Act Hospital Funding  CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced $30 billion from the $100 billion allocated to hospitals in the CARES Act will be disbursed this week.  Hospitals will receive the funding based on the individual hospital’s Medicare revenue and funds will be received via direct deposit. It should be noted that the money will not be released on a first come, first serve basis.  Numbers  As of early Tuesday morning, Johns Hopkins University is reporting nearly 400,000 cases and over 12,900 deaths in the United States.  African Americans may be disproportionately affected by COVID-19.  Reports are showing African Americans make up over 70% of deaths from COVID-19 in Louisiana and Chicago, while only approximately 30% of the population.  In Chicago, African Americans make up 30% of the population, yet represent 52% of the reported cases of COVID-19 and 72% of the related deaths.  Similar reports are coming out of Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., and Michigan.  More testing and better data are still needed, as most states and territories have not released racial or ethnic data.  Sources:  Washington Post NBC News  State  At the direction of Governor Abbott, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) will temporarily close all state parks and historical sites to strengthen social distancing measures in response to COVID-19. State parks and historical sites will remain closed until further notice otherwise to be given by the Governor.  Governor Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has implemented an emergency rule that will provide increased flexibility to providers to serve dialysis patients during the COVID-19 crisis. This will allow end stage renal disease (ESRD) facilities to operate off-site outpatient locations for those who test positive for COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the virus to other dialysis patients.   Numbers  As of late afternoon on April 7: 8,262 cases in Texas. 154 deaths. 161 counties reporting cases. 88,649 tests administered.  Local  On Tuesday, Harris County Commissioners Court approved an agreement with Houston-Galveston Area Council for a Small Business Economic Assistance Loan Program in response to COVID-19.  The program aims to help businesses impacted by the pandemic by offering zero-interest, forgivable loans up to $25,000 to meet ordinary and necessary operating expenses and obligations. Businesses must demonstrate that they have been harmed by the pandemic. Loans can be forgiven through county tax breaks over five years. If the borrower violates the loan's conditions, the business will become ineligible for loan forgiveness and will begin repayment following a three-month grace period.  An amendment was accepted to track whether businesses that are approved for loans are MWBE businesses.  The program will go live Wednesday and anticipates cutting checks to businesses within 30 days.  To be eligible, businesses must have existed for at least one year, be in Harris County and in good standing with the tax assessor, have a net worth of less than $15 million and annual average net income of less than $5 million over the past two years.  Source: Houston Chronicle Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information. And sign up for daily email alerts from the Partnership as the situation develops. 
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Partnership Members Respond to COVID-19

4/7/20
Members of the Partnership are helping fight COVID-19 here in Houston and around the country in many different ways. Learn about some of our member companies who are making a difference.    Donations & Assistance  AT&T: Supporting Families and Educators with New Fund – April 3  AT&T has created a Distance Learning and Family Connections Fund to give parents, students and teachers tools they need for at-home learning. The $10 million fund also will provide families resources to maintain meaningful connections and stay well while isolated from one another. Learn More Camden: Launch of Fund for Residents Without Income Due to Coronavirus  –  April 2  Houston-based apartment company Camden Property Trust has launched a $5 million program to provide financial support to residents who lost their source of income as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Learn More  AT&T: Feeding First Responders – April 2  AT&T has committed $5.5 million to provide much needed support – in the form of nourishing meals – for first responders, medical personnel and others in need impacted by COVID-19. The effort began with a $1.5 million contribution to World Central Kitchen. Learn More NRG: Pledges $2 million to COVID-19 Reflief Efforts  – April 1 NRG Energy, Inc.announces broad efforts to support first responders, community relief efforts and teachers. Learn More COMCAST: Offering Free Resources for Kids K-12 – March 31 COMCAST has made nearly 2,000 hours of programming and thousands of free titles available to Xfinity video customers to give children and parents quick and easy access to educational programming by grade level. Learn More Kroger: Donating $100,000 to Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund – March 27  Kroger has announced a $100,000 commitment to the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund, funding access to food, health care, shelter and more in Harris, Fort Bend, Waller and Montgomery counties. Learn More Veolia North America: Donating 40,000 Masks to Hospitals – March 26  Veolia is working to get the company's stockpile of surgical masks to hospitals in six cities that need them to keep patients and healthcare workers safe. Learn More United Way of Greater Houston and Greater Houston Community Foundation: Launch of Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund – March 25  The Greater Houston COVID-19 Fund will focus on funding of support services that stabilize basic needs by providing access to food, health care, shelter, utility assistance, transportation and other unmet basic needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic in the short-term and will respond to developing needs over time as resources are available. Learn More Houston Texans: Donating $100,000 to Houston’s COVID-19 Recovery Fund – March 25  To help support the community's most vulnerable affected by the growing coronavirus pandemic, the Houston Texans Foundation donated $100,000 to the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund. Learn More   Aiding Coronavirus Response Effort  Houston Community College, San Jacinto College, TX/RX and Other Education Institutions: Create Community Partnership to Address Protective Gear Shortages – April 8 Houston Community College, San Jacinto College, University of Houston at Sugar Land, Fort Bend County Judge’s Office, TX/RX Labs, Alief ISD and Houston ISD have joined efforts to help address personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages for local area medical professionals and first responders in the fight against COVID-19. Learn More Harmony Public Schools: Creating Face Shields – April 7 A team of education engineers at Harmony Public Schools have turned their "Innovation Lab" into a workshop to help healthcare workers. Learn More Houston Methodist: First to Transfuse Donated Plasma from Recovered COVID-19 Patient – March 29  The local health care giant is the first in the nation to be approved by the FDA to transfuse donated plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient to other critically ill patients. Learn More Union Pacific: Supplying Communities with the Goods to Survive a Pandemic – March 27  Whether it's stocking a home pantry or having the supplies to support essential services at hospitals, police and fire stations, and restaurants, the items in greatest demand are riding the rails as freight trains move the goods communities need most in a national emergency. Learn More Accel Lifestyle: Manufacturing Medical Masks  – March 27  The owner of apparel line Accel Lifestyle is using her antibacterial fabric to make masks for health care workers. Learn More Houston Community College: Making Face Shields – March 26  HCC is making face shields in response to the lack of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers out on the front lines. Learn More HEB: Launch of Texans Helping Texans – March 20  H-E-B has launched Texans Helping Texans, a community-outreach initiative that’s guided by digital innovation, compassionate philanthropy and the generous spirit and strength that brings together all Texans during uncertain times. Learn More  Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information. And sign up for daily email alerts from the Partnership as the situation develops.   
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