Houston City Council approved almost $9.2 million in grants to address COVID-19 relief, health disparities, and to fund a cooperative agreement for emergency response.

Officials approved the funding through seven ordinances at a July 6 council meeting.

The grant funds come via the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, and of the total, $2 million will go to to Aldine ISD; about $600,000 will go to Alief ISD; and $300,000 will go to Houston ISD.

Aldine and Alief ISDs will use the money to fund a public health workforce focused on prevention and response activities including testing, case identification, contact tracing, vaccination, health education data management, mandatory screenings, campus-linked health services and mandatory health data reporting, according to city information.

HISD and AISD will also onboard staff and buy equipment and supplies for COVID-19 testing.

Through this work, the three districts hope to identify and isolate clusters of illness quickly to prevent an outbreak of the virus, according to the ordinances.

City information states the Tejano Center for Communities Concern—an organization that helps empower families through education, health and community institutions—will receive $1.5 million to address health disparities in high-risk, underserved communities.

As part of the agreement, the center will build community response networks of grassroots organizations and community advocates.

According to the ordinance, the center will also devise plans and strategies to sustain engagement and the development of community equity teams and build awareness of systemic racism.

About $1.1 million will go to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to address health disparities for high-risk and underserved residents as part of the Houston Health Department's Comprehensive Equity Focused Expansion of Community Health Worker Network.

UT Health will establish a community health network that provides an infrastructure to support the community and sustain mobilization and engagement in the underserved, high risk communities. Additionally, UT Health will subcontract with Houston-based nonprofit Brighter Bites to address food insecurity, the ordinance said.

Another organization, Your Houston—a group focused on quality of life in the city—was awarded $1.5 million. The group will address health disparities in underserved communities.

According to the ordinance, the organization “will organize grassroots groups and individuals located within one or more COVID-19 zones to create a network of trained individuals, community health workers and groups to assist community residents.”

The focus areas are in the ZIP codes 77060, 77076, 77078, 77080, 77088, 77091, 77092 and 77093. They were chosen because the communities are highly vulnerable and have low vaccination rates, according to city information.

During the meeting, Council Member Sallie Alcorn said the large amount of funding allocated warrants followup checks from officials.

Dave Martin, District E council member and mayor pro tem, said accountability items should be brought back to the Council.

Updates on the funds will be brought to the city's Quality of Life Committee in the future, Martin said.