City Hall Update August 2023

Dear Houstonians,

This week is break week for Houston City Council. Still, a lot is happening throughout our departments to keep the City on track working for you and to keep my administration’s priorities and initiatives moving forward. The city council will resume next week with a special meeting on Monday, August 21, followed by Tuesday’s public session and Wednesday’s agenda meeting. I look forward to seeing you at City Hall!

I am delighted to share some news in case you missed it:

Tuesday, the Houston Police Department announced a drop in the homicide rate; Homicides have declined in Houston in 2023, data shows. You can read the news release here. The same report also revealed that Houston Police Department response times outpaced most major city police departments. I credit Police Chief Troy Finner, the men and women of the department, and the success of the One Safe Houston initiative in helping us reduce crime.

As children head back to school, I continue to voice my disappointment and concerns about changes in the Houston Independent School District. First, the state of Texas removed the elected school board and replaced it with a board of managers. Now the state-appointed superintendent is shutting down libraries on 28 campuses and converting the space into disciplinary centers. I recently hosted a news conference at City Hall to address these urgent issues.

I do not want any some schools to look like prisons. HISD is creating a school district of the haves and the have-nots. Some areas in the district are equipped with libraries full of books and technology. In contrast, others will resemble stark institutions with no place for students to go to their school library, study to check out a book, get the assistance of a librarian and expand their imagination.
Recently, I joined with the Mayor’s Office of Education and UNICEF to make a significant announcement: Houston officially named nation’s first Child Friendly City. Receiving this national distinction is a humbling moment for the City of Houston. We hope this will inspire many other U.S. cities to create awareness of children’s rights, strengthen support systems for youth and include them in the decision-making of their city.
In a historic and heartwarming moment, I was recently awarded the prestigious George Bush Medal, becoming the first-ever mayor to receive this esteemed recognition. The George Bush Medal is given for exceptional dedication to fostering inclusivity, championing the rights of people with disabilities, and creating a more accessible and equitable city for all.
Our Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities led by director Anel Ponce does a great job serving as the primary advocate for the rights and needs of citizens with disabilities. I believe every resident of our great city deserves an equal opportunity to thrive, regardless of their abilities. The George Bush Medal is a testament to the collaborative efforts of our entire community in making Houston a place where everyone can participate fully and live with dignity.
The National Urban League recently wrapped up its annual conference after hosting it in Houston for the first time in over two decades. I was pleased to participate in a fireside chat with mayors from New York City (Eric Adams), Chicago (Brandon Johnson), and Los Angeles (Karen Bass) where we discussed some of our mutual challenges and shared solutions.
After the discussion, Mayors Bass and Johnson asked to tour our city’s Navigation Center, designed to provide individuals with a consistent, safe, and stable location as they transition from homelessness to housing.

As the NUL conference ended, I was honored with the President’s Award during the Whitney M. Young Awards Gala. I sincerely thank National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial.

Mark your calendar for my final State of the City address as your mayor.

I am proud to say that I will leave to the next mayor a city that is better than it has been in a long time, much stronger than when I came into office in Jan. 2016. We are better today than we were yesterday, and we’ll be better tomorrow than we are today.