Previously, Houstonians had until July 20 to give written feedback on the maps, which are being redrawn as part of the decennial redistricting process. According to a July 18 press release from the city, all plans submitted must be in writing, be based on the data from the 2020 federal census, redistrict the entire city so an impact on minority groups can be assessed and conform to the city’s redistricting criteria.
According to the city’s redistricting website, the criteria includes the maintenance of equal population numbers across the city's 12 districts, easily identifiable geographic boundaries, not breaking up county voting precincts, the preservation of relations with incumbents and constituents, and avoiding the diminishing of voting power by demographic concentration or dilution.
Proposals for where the public would like certain voting precincts and neighborhoods or locations to be placed within a district are allowed, the release said. The city has redistricting software available for the public located at 611 Walker St., Houston, on the sixth floor. Staff will be on-site to help lend a technical hand to anyone interested, the release said.
As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, the July 7 unveiling of the draft plans was met with criticism from those who live in Freedmen’s Town. With the proposed plan, Freedmen’s Town could move from District C to District H.
On July 13, the city hosted two public hearings for feedback on the draft plan. Residents from Freedmen’s Town who spoke asked city demographer Jerry Wood to keep the area in District C, citing concerns regarding a fear of a potential lack of resources and representation.
In a phone interview, District C Council Member Abbie Kamin said she is hopeful the public feedback from residents will be taken into consideration in the revised map that will be presented in August to Houston City Council.
“They are proposed maps, and my hope is that [the resident’s] testimony and their concerns, their feedback and their desire to remain in District C will be heard,” Kamin said.
According to the redistricting website, after the revised plan is brought back to Council, two ordinances will make their way to the agenda in September. One will declare the population of the city, finding single-member districts materially imbalanced, while the other will establish the new boundaries.
The new boundaries are expected to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, with the mayor, council members and city controller assuming office based on the November 2023 election results, the website said.