Department News
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 11:14

HCDD Announces New Resource and Data Center

HCDD announces new Housing Resource and Data Center. It offers access to housing, community and economic information related to HCDD and City of Houston’s region and national stats.  Stakeholders may access data; housing and economic market studies; growth and development forecasts; and housing opportunities.  Special features include interactive Mapping, My City Mapping.  Visit for more information.

Many Houston-area youth will graduate from more than high school this spring. Some will also graduate from one of several COH Department of Neighborhoods youth programs.

DON offers these programs to help young people develop important values and skills such as responsibility, accountability, networking, communication, teamwork, and problems solving.

Youth this spring participated in several DON youth programs including the Mayor’s Youth Council, the United Minds Youth Leadership Council, the Ladies Choice girl groups and the Young Fathers program will turn their tassels as graduates of the class of 2015.

Many of these students have been participants of these programs during all four of their high school years. DON youth programs provide opportunities for young people to develop important values and skills such as responsibility, accountability, networking, communication, teamwork, and problems solving. They participate in service learning and community outreach projects, group activities, workshops and instructional classes.

Mayor Annise Parker presented the second annual Mayor’s Art Scholarship Competition Awards totaling $3,750 to six local high school students April 15.

   Mayor Art

The art scholarship contest fosters collaboration among Houston area high school fine arts departments and recognizes excellence in student art. This year's contest focused on the life and culture of Houston-area neighborhoods.

The awards were sponsored by the Department of Neighborhoods Mayor’s Office of Education Initiatives, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, and Houston Arts Partners. The presentation kicked off an exhibit of art entries submitted by more than 50 students, which is on view in the City Hall Annex through May 8.

2015 Mayor’s Art Scholarship Recipients

12th Grade winners

First place ($1,000) — Hee Won Cho, Connected Society, Memorial HS, Spring Branch ISD; second place ($750) — Jacqueline Villarreal, Blended, Sam Rayburn HS, Pasadena ISD; third place ($500) — Raina Baggerly, Midnight Snack, Sam Rayburn HS, Pasadena ISD.

11th Grade Winners

First place ($500) — Victor Mendoza, Portrait of the Dead, Cy-Lakes HS, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD; second place ($500) — Han Wen Zhang, Amalgam, Clements HS, Fort Bend ISD; third place  ($500) — Mikhaela Sarmiento, Spaghetti, Cypress Ranch HS, Cy-Fair ISD.

For more information about the Mayor’s Art Scholarship, visit

Kevia Stroder's colleagues with the city's Parking Management Division have known for quite a while how good she is at her job. But word is getting around the entire state now.Parking Stroder

The Texas Parking and Transportation Association made sure of that when it recognized Stroder as its 2015 Employee of the Year. The association made the presentation at its annual conference recently in Corpus Christi.

Stroder is a compliance supervisor. Parking Management Assistant Director Maria Irshad said Stroder has consistently strived and succeeded in meeting performance goals and is a valuable asset to the division.

"Kevia has served the community in ways not shown by data on a spreadsheet," Irshad said. "Congratulations, Kevia. Keep shining. You are an excellent teammate and I’m proud to call you my colleague and friend."

Saturday, 25 April 2015 15:39

Paying for parking pays off


The $500 giftcard presentation included (left to right) ARA's Melonie Curry and Paul Dugas, Parkmobile's Tina Dyer, winner Aaron Lipman, ARA's Maria Irshad,  Jerry Keeth and Rami Arafat.


People like to complain about paying to park. But recently, city of Houston Parking Management and its vendor, Parkmobile, made it worthwhile for Aaron Lipman and Amy Higgins. They both used Visa Checkout (Visa's version of Paypal) in the pay-by-phone app. During November and December they and other parkers who used Visa Checkout received one hour of free parking and were entered into a sweepstakes with a chance to win one of two $500 Visa gift cards. Lipman and Higgins each scored a card when they were randomly selected after the promtion ended.

Parkmobile and Parking Management employees were on hand to present Lipman with his card. Higgins, unable to attend, received her card in the mail.  


Saturday, 25 April 2015 15:11

HAS flying high with CMC accomplishments

Houston Airport System employees gave generously during the city's 2014 charity fundraising drive, the Combined Municipal Campaign. And recently their efforts were recognized at the CMC recognition ceremony with two awards.

HAS was praised for having the highest increase of employees participation and highest percentage of employees who committed to donating 1 percent or more of their salary.

HAS employee participation jumped from 46 percent in 2013 to a sky-high 100 percent in 2014. Total donations increased by $14,067.

CMC committee revved up participation through its nine themed events, including the Breast Cancer Ice Cream Social on Oct. 7 that benefited the Susan G. Komen charity.

“This is the one time a year that you get to pick your own charities,” said Melissa Saxton, Ellington Airport management analyst IV and HAS CMC co-chair. “Whatever it is you desire, this is your opportunity to donate. You can donate money or participate in the events as a form of donating.”

Find out more about the CMC.

The Houston Airport System posted recording-setting passenger traffic numbers in 2014, according to a year-end traffic report.

More than 53.1 million passengers filtered through Houston airports last year — a 4.5 percent increase that eclipsed the previous record of 50.9 million passengers in 2013.

“This is an exciting time for the city and for the Houston Airport System,” Mayor Annise Parker said. “The development we see all around Houston is mirrored by the steady growth at our airports — the kind of numbers that befit the fastest-growing major city in the United States. We’ve been remarkably successful in attracting new international air service to Houston and are moving forward with investments and projects that will ensure that growth continues.”

Both Bush Intercontinental Airport and Hobby Airport saw their total passenger traffic jump. Bush set record highs in both combined passenger totals — more than 41.2 million in both domestic and international passengers, a 3.6 percent increase — and in the number of international passengers — more than 9.8 million, a 9.2 percent increase from 2013’s 8.9 million. The airport also saw a 2 percent increase in domestic passengers, up to more than 31.4 million.

Not to be outdone, Hobby Airport saw more than 11.9 million passengers, a 7.5 percent increase over the previous-record 11.1 million of 2013. The growing numbers are nothing new. Demand for travel from Hobby Airport has increased steadily over the past decade, growing by more than 34 percent over the past 10 years.

Read more details and get more figures about the airports' record year.

Steven Guillory recently joined Human Resources as its division manager of safety.

 SAFETY guy DSC 0023 72

He now leads 10 safety supervisors who identify and eliminate workplace dangers through hazard analysis, safety training, investigation, trend analysis, inspections and evaluations.

More than half of Guillory’s 15 years of professional safety experience has been with the city. He started at the Houston Airport System as a safety representative and then in Public Works and Engineering as its safety supervisor.   

In HR, Guillory is responsible for developing and managing the city’s comprehensive health and safety program.

Houston’s southeast area, also known as the Old Spanish Trail(OST)/South Union community, will receive a major economic boost with the construction of mix-use housing. The Village at Palm Center will include 154 apartments and 68 townhomes located at the former abandoned old flee market located at the corner of Griggs and Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Community leaders joined by local officials and stakeholders for the demolition of the King’s Best Market building and parking lot.  200 units are reserved for affordable housing to low and moderate residents. The affordability is for no less than 10-years. 

This project will be located next to METRO’s light rail to include a 14,500 square feet of retail space. Amenities include green space, 4,000 square-foot community center, fitness center, on-site daycare facility, parking garage and 24 hour security.   The project is funded with $15 million of Community Development Block Grant dollars.  The final cost of project is projected to be $41 million. 



Thursday, 26 February 2015 10:36

For $20, city employees can adopt a pet at BARC

Houston's BARC animal shelter has established a discounted rate of $20 for city employees to adopt a pet.

 BARC dog

The rate is effective immediately and includes spay/neuter surgery, a microchip with lifetime registration, a one-year pet license, and all age-appropriate vaccinations. City employees interested in adopting a dog, cat, kitten or puppy may visit BARC's website at and go to the Adopt a Pet page for details and requirements.

 BARC is located at 3200 Carr Street in Houston. It is open from noon to 5:30 p.m. daily except Mondays and Thursdays.

For the latest news and information on what's going on at the shelter, go to the BARC blog at



Volaris Airlines will add nonstop service between Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Guadalajara, Mexico, beginning in March. The route is part of Volaris' efforts to expand its network of flights connecting Mexico and the U.S.

Volaris has begun selling tickets. The flights will originate from Guadalajara International Airport three days a week. Flights are available for booking starting at an inaugural fare of $114, with the buy-ahead approach and Volaris’ pay-per-service plan — “Tú Decides” — that allows travelers to specifically select those services they need for their trip.

For more information about Volaris, please visit For more information about Houston Airports, visit

William P. Hobby Airport is approaching the final year of construction on a new five-gate International concourse. Along with the arrival of a new 3,000-space parking garage, the new building will help to facilitate the return of commercial international air travel at Hobby. 

Both of these projects, and a dramatically improved bi-level roadway system, are scheduled for completion in late 2015.

Customers and airport employees both received some good news surrounding the projects in January, as a significant portion of the necessary roadway modifications was completed well ahead of schedule.

“This was a whole airport effort that required lots of pre-planning,” said Hobby’s Senior Project Manager Bill White. 

The ramp opened Dec. 16, two days early after 26 houses of non-stop work efforts. 

“Customers experienced minimal impact to their airport experience and level of service due to the project being finished ahead of schedule,” said Houston Airport System (HAS) Operational Readiness & Airport Transfer Team Manager Gabrielle Dirden. 

The purpose of the closure was to facilitate the placement of 40 concrete beams adjacent to the ramp that would support the future international facility and terminal roadway. As a result of the closure, all vehicular passenger traffic was re-routed to the arrival (lower) ramp. 

For more information on the new International Terminal at HOU, please visit

Arturo-MachucaArturo Machuca, Houston Airport System (HAS) Manager of Business Development who is leading the efforts to bring a Houston Spaceport to Ellington Airport, has been named the general manager of Ellington Airport.

Machuca will oversee the daily operations of the facility and the development and implementation of policies and procedures. He will coordinate the preparation and monitoring of the Ellington Airport budget and expenditures.

Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz appointed Machuca in December.

"Arturo Machuca demonstrates a strong commitment to delivering outstanding customer service for the Houston Airport System," Diaz said. "Arturo’s expertise and vision are just two of the reasons he is leading efforts to bring the spaceport project to fruition at Ellington, and those assets will help in strengthening our mission to exceed customer expectations at Ellington Airport.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity and responsibility,” Machuca said. “Ellington is a growing facility — one with limitless potential and a talented staff that embraces the Houston Airport System’s commitment to excellence. Together, we can continue the growth and success we have seen and continue to provide great service to our customers.”

With more than 30 years of sales and marketing experience in the aviation industry, Machuca joined the Houston Airport System in 2009. As the Manager of Business Development he oversaw economic development, industry affairs and business relations.

Three years ago, Machuca was tasked with the huge responsibility of developing a plan to bring a commercial spaceport to Ellington. Machuca worked with various Federal and local agencies, as well as key players in the aerospace industry, to create preliminary plans and conceptual drawings to pursue a license to bring commercial spaceflights to Ellington Airport. He will remain as the lead for the Houston Spaceport project. 

"Commercial spaceports are another example of aviation’s pioneering spirit,” Machuca said. “They represent a partnership between the host airport facility and private enterprise. It is a collaborative model that already has led to the creation of a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States and that's certainly the type of partnership we envision for the Houston Spaceport project as it continues to move forward."

Six months after a crowd of staff and interns involved in the City of Houston’s Summer Jobs Program gathered at Moody Park to celebrate the culmination of months of hard work with an end-of-summer graduation ceremony, the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognized Houston as the National Summer Youth Jobs Challenge Large City award recipient. Mayor Parker received the award on behalf of the City of Houston at the USCM’s 83rd Annual Winter Meeting Plenary Breakfast in Washington, D.C. 

The USCM National Summer Youth Jobs Challenge is a program that urges mayors from across the nation to create innovative and long-lasting partnerships with local businesses and organizations with the hopes of ensuring our youth have a meaningful summer job experience.

This past year, the City of Houston launched its program and opened its doors to more than 450 Houston-area youth between 16 and 21 years old. They participated in a unique summer internship opportunity that placed participants in 14 city departments in more than 140 worksites across the city.

The program was initiated by a $1.5 million commitment from City Council to establish a youth summer employment initiative and was administered through a partnership with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Workforce Solutions, SER-Jobs for Progress, Houston Area Urban League, METRO and community volunteers.

To participate in the SJP, Houston area youth had to complete a thorough application and go through a multi-level structured interview process. Once selected, interns were required to complete a 40-hour job readiness training workshop at the George R. Brown Convention Center that covered topics ranging from financial literacy and work etiquette, to the importance of diversity and communication in the workplace. As a result of the program, 130 youth opened new bank accounts. 

“SJP provides tremendous potential for our youth and city, and its investment in our future promotes engaged, inspired and empowered young professionals,” said Mayor Parker. “Participants gained valuable knowledge and insight, moral support, contacts, experience and direction, all essential components in their long-term development.”

Interns were assigned based on their interests and proximity to work locations to ensure a more successful experience.

“Working with the Houston Police Department has and will continue to give me the knowledge that I need to pursue my career. It will also help me become more aware of my surroundings and what I need to do to help others,” said Gabriela Quintanilla, an SJP graduate.

This community-based initiative is important because it displays a new standard for creating and maintaining key partnerships in our community to invest in our youth and contributes to the success of our city’s future workforce by exposing youth to real-world work experience. 

The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ National Summer Youth Jobs Challenge:


Page 16 of 16