Talking Transition

Talking Transition is a first-of-its-kind initiative by Judge Hidalgo in an effort to run an open transition process.

Talking Transition included a countywide survey that garnered 11,000+ responses. The survey is one of many different approaches that Judge Hidalgo’s office is using to learn about the issues that matter most to Harris County residents. The following are some of the most important takeaways from the survey:

  • Many Harris County respondents reported a lack of information on county government, including its composition and functions;
  • Nearly half of respondents have a negative perception of the criminal justice system;
  • Regardless of where they live, 44% of respondents reported feeling increasingly unsafe against future natural disasters;
  • 24% of  Harris County respondents reported that their air and water quality is “terrible,” and a third of respondents estimated that overall quality is declining;
  • A quarter of respondents reported that public transportation options are getting worse - this was especially prevalent in areas not served by METRO;
  • One-third of respondents say they have had trouble paying for affordable housing in the last year, with many also saying they were affected by Harvey;
  • 36% of respondents living in eastern and southern parts of Harris County reported having difficulty finding quality jobs to support their families.

Talking Transition included a variety of ways to learn about resident priorities, including Civic Saturdays, an event series that created opportunities for members of the public to discuss community needs. Each Civic Saturday involved engaging public discussions as well as Action Plan Workshops for experts, policymakers, and community leaders to identify actions that the County and others can take to respond to those needs.

Over 200 organizations—from community-based coalitions, to university research centers, to county agencies and other policymakers—sent leaders to participate in one of the seven Action Plan Workshops. The workshops generated a wide range of policy ideas or programs that Harris County and its partners could potentially implement—many of which the County Judge’s Office, other members of Commissioners Court, and County departments are currently advancing—across seven different key issues areas: health & environment; transportation; children & education; economic opportunity; housing; criminal justice; and resilience & flood mitigation.

These survey results highlight the need for real change to how government informs, interacts with, and provides services to residents. These findings further motivate Judge Hidalgo and her team to build a more accessible, transparent, and inclusive county government.