2021 Harris County Commissioner’s Court Unity Map Proposal

To have a voice in representation and public policy and build political power, we have to engage in the redistricting process that occurs every ten years after the Census. No matter which issues are most important to you and your community - whether it’s elections, criminal justice, healthcare, education, environmental justice, or any other - impacting those issues depends on electing representatives who align with your communities’ interests and needs.

Houston in Action alongside our member organizations Mi Familia Vota, Pure Justice, OCA Greater Houston, and EMGAGE Action asked that Harris County ensure that the process is fair and transparent and allows regular people to participate along the way. Elected officials must neither divide large communities of color across several districts and weaken their voting impact, nor pack them into a few heavily concentrated districts that stave off their voting power from the remainder of the region or state.

What is a Unity Map?

A Unity Map is a collaborative map created by communities who have historically been pitted against each other. Instead of politicians drawing lines to benefit them, these maps are created by people who live in communities. By working together and agreeing on map lines, they create a map that fairly represents Houston’s diverse communities. 

This is the first time in recent history that grassroots community organizations come together to engage in redistricting and draw a Unity Map. We are so proud of different community groups coming together for this purpose.

Over the past few months, we’ve had conversations centered on the lived experiences of community leaders and members to discuss not just where they live, but the issues that they experience, many of which have not been meaningfully addressed for decades and generations. The common needs and narratives of marginalized neighborhoods have been distorted by imaginary lines that communities had no say in. We were able to draw maps that retain and keep communities whole and the issues they face; something that seems to elude elected officials who are meant to uphold their oath to serve all constituents, not only their voters. These maps demonstrate how the Harris County Commissioners Court can and must prioritize real community issues and interests,” shared Marla Lopez, Interim Houston Coordinator at Mi Familia Vota.

“Community maps should be people and issue-based; this map was drawn by the community and focuses on their needs. Advancements come when constituents choose electeds, instead of electeds choosing constituents. The time is now" - RoShawn Evans, co-founder and Organizing Director at Pure Justice.

“In order to ensure that the will of the people is reflected in any districts drawn from hereon, we worked with community members to draw communities of interest and identify issues that need to be prioritized by their elected commissioners. Concerns such as decaying infrastructure, flooding, houselessness and more broadly socioeconomic disparities cannot be addressed without adequate funding and responsiveness by elected officials." - Amatullah Contractor, Deputy Executive Director, Emgage Texas

Our Unity Map




Over the past six months, Houston in Action has facilitated the creation of a 2021 Harris County Commissioners Court Unity Map with our member groups Mi Familia Vota, Pure Justice, OCA Greater Houston, and EMGAGE Action.

These organizations mapped a total of 43 communities of interest with community leaders throughout Harris County. They held dozens of one-on-one and group meetings to discuss the redistricting process and gather priorities for the Commissioner map.

Details about our Unity Map:

  • Our Unity Map keeps communities of interest whole so they can elect leaders who will fight for their issues and so that those communities can hold them accountable. 
  • Our map preserves many communities of interest in Precinct One, including Third Ward, Fifth Ward, Sunnyside, South Union, Kashmere Gardens, Trinity Gardens, Independence Heights, and Acres Homes.
  • Our map preserves Precinct Two as containing most areas in eastern Harris County, including Channelview, Pasadena, Galena Park, Baytown, and Deer Park.
    • Pct. Two also is redrawn to include all of the community of Aldine, which is split among Pct. Four, Pct. One, and Pct. Two in the current map.
    • Many communities in Pct. Two also face pollution because of toxic release facilities; for this reason, we have kept them in Pct. Two.
  • Our map ensures that many communities of interest are contained entirely within Pct. Three. These communities include Asiatown, Alief, Sharpstown, Gulfton, Hillcroft, Spring Branch, Bellaire, and the Medical Center.
    • In our Unity Map, Alief is completely within Pct. Three.

Do you want to submit a testimony for your community to be drawn fairly? 

Sign up on our event page or call into Harris County Commissioners Court. If you plan to testify, please sign up here. By filling out this form, you help Houston in Action track how many people testify and measure our collective success. The Houston in Action team may also follow up with you to record your story.We will send you a message once the date of the hearing is announced if you sign up on our event page.

Follow the steps below to craft your testimony! 

  1. Introduce yourself, share where you live, and say that you’re testifying in support of the Houston in Action Unity Map.
  2. Describe the main issues your community would like to be addressed.
    1. For example: over-policing, flooding, access to healthcare, living free from pollution, stable, affordable housing 
  3. Share a story about how you or your community have been affected by the issue. 
  4. Talk about what Commissioner Precinct your community is located under the Unity Map.  
  5. Conclude with your ask of Commissioners Court: “I ask you to please adopt the Houston in Action Unity Map for Commissioner Precincts.” 

Need help crafting your testimony? Email ally@houstoninaction.org.

Interact with our Unity Map

You can use the map below or scroll through our storymap explaining how the map was created.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Kabala

OUR VALUES:
Inclusion, Transparency, Racial Justice

United Way of Greater Houston 2020 Census Response Grant