Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Mayor Turner Discusses Rental Relief Package and Updates Community on COVID-19 Response


Aggressive Suspects Wanted in North Houston Robbery


Crime Stoppers and the Houston Police Department’s Robbery Division need the public's assistance identifying the suspects responsible for an aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.

On Sunday, July 5, 2020, at 7:02 am, two unknown males entered the Star Stop, located at 3810 Little York, in Houston, Texas. One of the suspects jumped the counter as he pointing a gun at the clerk while the second suspect ran around the counter as he also pointed his handgun at the clerk. The suspects then surrounded the clerk while demanding that he open the cash register. As the clerk attempted to open the cash drawer, one of the suspects held his gun against the clerk’s side while the second suspect pushed his handgun against the clerk's head in an attempt to force him to hurry. One of the suspects then placed several Newport cigarettes in a box as the other suspect removed the money from the cash drawer. Both suspects then fled the location in an unknown direction. Houston PD #883766-20

Suspect description: Suspect #1: Black male, 5’9 to 5’11, black hoodie, black pants, and red shoes. Suspect #2: Black male, 5’6 to 5’8, gray pullover and black pants, red mask, and gray shoes.

Crime Stoppers may pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the charging and/or arrest of the suspect in this case. Information may be reported by calling 713-222-TIPS (8477) or submitted online at www.crime-stoppers.org

City of Houston Announces the More Space Program

HOUSTON -  Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council members today approved the new More Space program to help restaurants accommodate more customers while maintaining social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The new program allows any restaurant to convert 50% of its off-street parking spaces to serve customers. This expanded outdoor dining space will enhance business and operations for restaurants and allow Houstonians to patronize businesses while following strict health and safety guidance.
 


“Houston is eager to re-engage, and Houston’s restaurants are excited to see their customers return. At the same time, we want to keep everyone safe and I encourage people to continue social distancing, wearing a mask and washing their hands frequently," said Mayor Sylvester. "Since occupancy is lower during this time, parking spaces can be converted to places to serve customers. It is a win-win."

The City’s Planning and Development Department led the multi-departmental effort with input from several Management Districts, individual restaurants, and an array of stakeholders. The City developed the program to accommodate additional capacity for guests looking to dine outdoors.
 
“Space can only do one thing at a time.  It’s great that the City can prioritize space for customers to socially distance over space for parking that isn’t being used,” said David Fields, Houston’s Chief Transportation Planner.
 
The program will include the following guidelines:
  • Allow each restaurant to convert up to 50% of its off-street parking to space for serving food (serving only, not food storage or preparation).
  • This program would be entirely voluntary. Restaurants may opt-in but not required to participate.
  • Social distancing rules (6-foot spacing) would still apply.
  • Driveway access, pedestrian access, and ADA-spaces must remain. The program will last through COVID-19 space restrictions.
  • The overall program and/or individual sites will be revocable at any time if safety concerns are identified.
To make this program as effective as possible and minimize the process, restaurant owners who would like to participate must submit a Notification Form to track program participation. This will help the City receive feedback on the program and learn from it in the future.
 
The More Space program is effective on August 5, 2020. Restaurants seeking to participate in the program can complete and submit the Notification Form, as well as find more information here: http://houstontx.gov/planning/MoreSpace.html.

Mayor Turner, Dr. Persse, HPD Chief Acevedo Give Covid-19 Update And Remind People To Mask Up



Mayor Turner is joined by Houston Medical Director Dr. David Persse, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, and Houston Fire Dept. Executive Assistant Chief Michelle McLeod to give the latest Covid-19 update.

They stressed the importance of wearing masks and request that people get tested.

The testing sites are free for everyone and the wait time is much shorter than in previous weeks.

Houston City Council Approves $20 million Rent Relief Program For Rent Assistance Due To COVID-19 Pandemic


Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston City Council today approved a $20 million rent relief package to help Houstonians who cannot pay rent due to economic challenges caused by COVID-19. Funding for the City's second rental relief package includes $15 million from the the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, and $5 million from private donors: • $2 million from the Houston Endowment • $1 million from the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund • $1 million from the Kinder Foundation • $1 million from Texans owner and co-founder Janice McNair The City plans to set aside money for Lone Star Legal Aid and for those who need assistance but do not qualify for CARES Act dollars. "I want to stress that there is no perfect formula, and we know there are Houstonians with a lot of needs as a result of the pandemic. This program will provide relief to thousands of families," said Mayor Turner. "If you are at the lowest level, and you are not able to pay rent, pretty much the only place left is on the street. So we want to make sure people don't find themselves forced out of their homes and on the street." Criteria to qualify for rental relief program: • must live in the City of Houston and be behind on rent payments for August or prior months and cannot pay the rent due to economic challenges caused by COVID-19 • must live in the City of Houston and behind on rent payments for August or prior months and cannot pay the rent due to economic challenges caused by COVID-19 • Even if only one tenant in an apartment complex qualifies for rental assistance, the no eviction rule applies to all tenants on the property • For more information visit HoustonRentAssistance.org. Mayor Turner is also asking the landlords to waive late fees and interest on late payments, agree to a payment plan and refrain from evictions through Sept. 2020. The mayor thanked the Houston Apartment Association and BakerRipley for their work to make the rental relief program successful. "I am urging congress to put more money for rent relief in the second CARES Act package and I am calling on our state leadership to address the needs of Texans," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "Cities cannot do it alone. We are trying our best, but we should not be the only resource looking out for families and business that are suffering because of COVID-19. A lot of people helped get us over the finish line today and I want to thank city council.

Investigation into Shooting at 5700 Griggs Road

Houston police are investigating the shooting of a juvenile at 5700 Griggs Road about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday (July 30).

The female victim, 14, was transported to an area hospital with what are believed to be non-life-threatening wounds.

HPD Major Assaults & Family Violence Division Officers B. Salazar and B. Godoy reported:

The victim was inside a vehicle when an unknown suspect in another vehicle began shooting.  The victim was shot in the arm and subsequently transported to an nearby hospital for treatment.

The suspect fled the scene.

Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact the HPD Major Assaults & Family Violence Division at 713-308-8800 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

Investigation into Fatal Shooting of Armed Suspect at 1900 Travis Street

Houston police are investigating an incident in which an armed suspect was fatally shot by an HPD officer at 1900 Travis Street about 2:10 p.m. on Tuesday (August 4).  

The suspect, Ashton Broussard (b/m, 30), was pronounced dead at the scene.  

Sergeant G. Welch, who discharged his duty weapon, was not injured in the incident.  Sergeant Welch was sworn in as an officer in June 2002 and is assigned to the Special Operations Division.  

HPD Special Investigations Unit Sergeant J. Hekimian and Detectives J. Snook, N. Arellano, W. Elliot and I. Ulloa reported:  

Sergeant Welch, off-duty and in full uniform, was flagged down near the 2500 block of Main Street by a female security guard who advised she had been disarmed by a male suspect (Broussard) wearing a green sweat suit and followed him to this address.  Sergeant Welch and the security guard pursued Broussard on foot, but lost sight of him near the Metro Transit Authority station at 1900 Travis Street.  

While searching for the suspect, a witness on a bicycle told Sergeant Welch and the security guard that Broussard had gotten on a parked bus at the station and pointed him out.  The security guard entered the bus and pointed out Broussard to Sergeant Welch.  The passengers were told to exit the bus and Sergeant Welch began talking to Broussard, who stated the weapon was his.  Sergeant Welch gave Broussard verbal commands not to touch the gun, which he ignored.  Broussard got up, drew the weapon and pointed it at Sergeant Welch.  Fearing for his safety, Sergeant Welch discharged his duty weapon and struck Broussard.  Houston Fire Department paramedics responded to the scene and pronounced Broussard deceased.  He was positively identified at the scene and was determined to be out on bond for escape and criminal mischief, and was wanted for felony assault on a public servant.  

As is customary in HPD officer-involved shootings in the Houston city limits, this case is being investigated by the HPD Special Investigations Unit, the Internal Affairs Division and the Harris County District Attorney's Office.  

Houston man indicted for exploiting toddler

HOUSTON – A 34-year-old resident of Houston is in custody for charges relating to sexual exploitation of a child, otherwise known as producing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick.

A federal grand jury returned the indictment against Richard Reyes Trigo today for sexual exploitation of children as well as distribution and possession of child pornography. He is expected to make an appearance on the indictment in the near future.  

He was originally charged by criminal complaint following suspicion he actively engaged in the sexual exploitation of a minor female under the age of two. He was taken into federal custody July 15 and made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Bray, at which time he was ordered detained pending further criminal proceedings.

The charges allege Trigo engaged in conversations via a social media forum that individuals who have a sexual interest in children allegedly frequent. Trigo saw a post that contained terms commonly associated with the sexual exploitation of children and responded, according to the charges. During the course of the chats, Trigo allegedly claimed he was sexually active with a minor female and claimed he performed sexual acts on her. Trigo later sent four images he claimed were of the minor, some of which focused on her vagina, according to the charges.

If convicted of producing child pornography, Trigo faces a minimum of 15 and up to 30 years in federal prison, while the distribution and possession charges carry additional penalties up to 20 and 10 years, respectively. Each charge also carries a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

The FBI conducted the investigation.

Suspect Arrested and Charged in 2017 Fatal Shooting at 8501 Broadway Street

Charges have been filed against a suspect arrested in the fatal shooting of a man at 8501 Broadway Street about 9:20 p.m. on June 1, 2017.  

The suspect, Donwayen Anthony Dixon (b/m, 24), is charged with capital murder in the 177th State District Court.  He is accused in the death of Henry Gotal Bonilla, 29, who died of his injuries at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center.  

HPD Homicide Division Sergeant S. Murdock reported:

Patrol officers were dispatched to a shooting call at the apartment complex at the above address and observed Mr. Bonilla on the ground with several gunshot wounds.  Paramedics transported Bonilla to the hospital where doctors pronounced him deceased 10 days later.

Further investigation identified Dixon as a suspect in this case.  He was arrested last Thursday (July 30) in the 7200 block of T.C. Jester without incident.  A second suspect remains unidentified.  

Anyone with information on the identity of the second suspect or this case is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.  

Investigation into Stabbing at 3000 South State Highway 6

Houston police are investigating the stabbing of a juvenile at 3000 South State Highway 6 about 9:10 p.m. on Tuesday (August 4).

The male victim, 17, was transported to an area hospital in stable condition.

The juvenile suspect, 16, was referred to Harris County Juvenile Probation authorities on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

HPD Major Assaults & Family Violence Division Officers B. Salazar and A. Williams reported:

The two juveniles got into an argument at the above address, which led to the suspect pulling a knife and stabbing the victim several times.  The victim was transported via Life Flight helicopter to an area hospital where doctors expected him to survive.  The suspect was detained at the scene.

The investigation is continuing. 

Anyone with additional information in this case is urged to contact the HPD Major Assaults & Family Violence Division at 713-308-8800.  

Investigation into Shooting at 6100 Bellfort Street

Houston police are investigating the shooting of a woman at 6100 Bellfort Street about 3:10 p.m. on Tuesday (Aug. 4).

The victim, Megan Walker, 23, was transported to an area hospital in critical condition.

HPD Major Assaults & Family Violence Division Officers M. Althaus and L. Bolmanski reported:

Ms. Walker was riding in the passenger seat of a friend's vehicle stopped at a red light on Belfort Street at Mykawa Road when a four-door, silver vehicle, possibly a Hyundai sedan, pulled up on Walker's side.  An unknown suspect(s) then fired multiple shots at Walker and the friend, striking Walker more than once in the abdomen area.  The suspect(s) then fled the scene.

The friend, who was not injured, then drove to the HPD Southeast Police Station where he flagged down officers and reported what had happened.  Paramedics transported Walker to the hospital. 

The motive for the shooting is not known at this time.

Anyone with information in this case is urged to contact the HPD Major Assaults & Family Violence Division at 713-308-8800 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

City of Houston to participate in largest single-day, community-led heat mapping effort in U.S. history

HOUSTON - On August 7, right around when temperatures tend to hit their peak in Houston and Harris County, roughly 80 community scientists will take to the streets with specially-designed thermal sensors attached to their cars or bicycles. They will embark on a 300-square-mile effort to measure and map urban heat in the region. This community science endeavor is led by the Houston Harris Heat Action Team (H3AT), a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy of Texas (TNC), Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), the City of Houston, and Harris County Public Health (HCPH), and in partnership with Lowe’s and Shell.

Houston and Harris County are currently facing a number of intersected climate resilience and health challenges—and one of the most significant, yet largely overlooked, is urban heat. Even for a Houstonian, it’s easy to think first of flooding or hurricanes when it comes to regional climate impacts, but increases in daytime and nighttime temperatures at the rate we’ve seen since the 1970s can do as much—if not more—damage.

“Houstonians do not prepare for heat like we prepare for hurricanes, but we should,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Houston is getting hotter, and we need science and data to help identify where the greatest impacts are, so we can keep Houstonians safer and our City more resilient. I thank Heat Watch, Lowe’s, Shell, and the Houston Harris Heat Action Team for partnering to do this extremely important work in our community.”

The urban heat island mapping campaign is included in Resilient Houston, the City’s comprehensive resilience strategy, as part of its commitment to making Houston neighborhoods greener and cooler.

Heat is the number one weather-related cause of death in the world. It leaves vulnerable communities susceptible to the dangers of stress and stroke, leads to higher ozone levels, and reduces the quality of life for all residents of the region—creating especially dangerous conditions for communities already striving to overcome historic obstacles around access and resources, as well as those who engage in outdoor work and recreation. It makes living in urban environments less and less affordable; it adversely affects our wild neighbors; and—most critically—it shows no sign of stopping.

“With summer in full force, extreme heat and humidity pose a health risk for Harris County residents,” said Jessica Abbinett, Climate Program Coordinator at Harris County Public Health. “Due to the current situation with COVID-19, more residents are spending time staying home, which is a heat safety concern in households without air-conditioning or in households limited by air-conditioning cost.”

Last August was the second warmest on record in Houston, with seven days in a row topping 100 degrees. In fact, all but two days that month met or exceeded the average daily high, leading the power grid to set an all-time record for system peak demand. And as the climate changes and the city expands, these heat-related challenges continue to be exacerbated. Summer heat in Houston is already up to 13 degrees hotter than in nearby rural areas—with communities that lack access to green space bearing the brunt of the impacts—and if there is no reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, the city can expect the average number of days with a heat index above 105 degrees to increase from 10 to 74 by 2065.

But research shows that there is potential to reshape our built environment and cool our cities down. More and more frequently, local planners and developers are leveraging smart, cooling urban design strategies that offer stacked benefits—including climate resilience—to residents, both human and wild.

“We have a number of nature-first solutions in our toolkit that can help us cool our cities, but the first step in combating climate- and infrastructure-caused urban heat is to know exactly where to start,” said Jaime Gonz├ílez, Houston Healthy Cities Program Director at The Nature Conservancy in Texas. “Once we have a detailed map of Houston’s heat, we’re able to be targeted when it comes to identifying where we should plant trees, install green rooftops, and push forward other heat mitigation tactics that also help support biodiversity, increase access to green space, and clean our air at the very same time.”

Essentially, by developing highly detailed maps that identify where, on a granular level, heat is located and where it’s the most severe, it becomes possible to identify where the implementation of heat mitigation tactics will have the greatest impact. And that type of neighborhood-by-neighborhood mapping is exactly what the H3AT team is rolling out this August.

Using a national protocol, the Houston-Harris County team is leading the largest, single-day, community-led heat mapping effort in history to develop neighborhood-by-neighborhood temperature maps of the region. These maps will help the City of Houston, Harris County, and other climate-minded organizations design future projects and policies that will address heat-related health issues across the region in the most impactful way. The data collected as part of this project will be published on an open-source platform, so that it is accessible to all who want to leverage it.

“Ultimately, the urban heat island effect can impact many aspects of human health and well-being,” said Dr. Meredith Jennings, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Resilience. “This study will be an important first step to help communities understand urban heat islands, guide policymakers on next steps, and move forward with science-backed solutions to improve quality of life.”

On August 7, the recruited 'street scientist' volunteers will travel along prescribed routes to record ambient temperatures and humidity at three specific times during the day (6:00-7:00 a.m., 3:00-4:00 p.m., and 7:00-8:00 p.m.). The project volunteers will cover 32 mapping areas, or “polygons,” that each represent a 10-square mile area.

"Lowe’s is committed to our communities and we are honored to join The Nature Conservancy, City of Houston, HARC, and Harris County Public Health in this project,” says Chris Cassell, Director of Corporate Sustainability at Lowe’s. “Along with our national partners, we’ve rejuvenated Houston neighborhoods, provided aid after natural disasters, and will now help shape the city’s future through environmental data gathering.”

Because this heat mapping project needs to take place on a clear, sunny day, the official date will be contingent on weather. The project partners are working closely with the National Weather Service, and will look at a date during the following week, pending August 7 does not meet the weather specifications.

This project is part of a larger initiative, Heat Watch, led by CAPA Strategies and supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Program Office, who helped to fund the project. The Houston-Harris County team is one of 13 communities selected to participate in 2020 summer campaigns. For more info, visit CAPA Heat Watch.

Download program fact sheet here

The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. In Texas and across the globe, we are conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale while mitigating and adapting to a changing climate. Since 1964, The Nature Conservancy in Texas has protected nearly one million acres of land, established 38 nature preserves and worked with state and federal agencies to create and expand state parks, national parks and wildlife refuges. These protected public lands include Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Caddo Lake State Park, and national wildlife refuges along the Texas Gulf Coast. Our freshwater program has protected more than 200 miles of stream and river habitat. To learn more, visit http://www.nature.org/Texas or follow @nature_tx on Twitter.

City of Houston – Mayor’s Office of Resilience
The Mayor’s Chief Resilience Officer leads the city’s resilience efforts, including the development and implementation of the Resilient Houston strategy, launched in February 2020. Resilient Houston is focused on building resilience at every scale and is organized into five chapters, 18 goals and targets, and 62 actions. Each chapter identifies actions for increasing the resilience of Houstonians, neighborhoods, bayous, the city and the region. The vision for a more resilient Houston is a healthy place to live, an equitable, inclusive, and affordable city, a leader in climate adaptation, a city that builds up, not out, and a transformative economy that builds forward. For more information about Houston’s resilience program, visit https://www.houstontx.gov/mayor/chief-resilience-officer.html.

Harris County Public Health
Achieving national accreditation in 2018, Harris County Public Health is responsible for providing comprehensive public health services to Harris County residents. HCPH aims to improve the health and well-being of its residents and the communities where they live, learn, work, worship and play, using its cornerstone values of innovation, equity, and engagement. HCPH’s jurisdiction includes all the unincorporated areas of Harris County, while also providing public health services in some form to most of the 34 municipalities within Harris County, the largest of which is the City of Houston with 2.3 million people. In total, HCPH serves the 4.7 million residents in the county. To learn more visit www.publichealth.harriscountytx.gov/ and connect with us @hcphtx on Twitter and Instagram.

Houston Advanced Research Center
HARC is a research hub providing independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues to people seeking scientific answers. Its research activities support the implementation of policies and technologies that promote sustainability based on scientific principles. HARC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization building a sustainable future in which people thrive and nature flourishes. For further information, visit www.HARCresearch.org. You can also connect with us via Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Like or follow @HARCresearch.