Bridging the Economic Divide

Harris PROSPERS (Pathways to Realize Opportunity, Security, Potential, Equity, Resilience, and Safety) is a plan and a promise to make Harris County a place where everyone has a stable foundation and a clear path—free from unfair barriers—to prosper, thrive, and build a better life for themselves and their families. But we have work to do to realize this vision of economic freedom and shared prosperity for all of Harris County because too many people are struggling to get by without a way to ever get ahead.

We can bridge the economic divide, prosper together as neighbors and equals, and live in a society where all people benefit from economic stability, fair opportunity, and shared prosperity. That’s why Harris County is taking bold, visionary action that speaks to a plain truth: People deserve a safe roof over their head, an income floor to support basic needs, access to good jobs that pay a living wage, equitable investments in their communities, and real opportunities to reach for their version of the American dream. When every family has access to resources and the opportunities they need to thrive, Harris County will become a stronger, safer, and more vibrant place for all to call home.

Initiatives under Harris PROSPERS focus on two strategic goals:

Creating Paths to Good Jobs and Fair Opportunity

Harris County is creating good-paying, safe jobs, building career pipelines, and leveling the economic playing field so all people have a fair shot. We’re removing barriers to opportunity and embracing economic equity to create an inclusive, thriving, and prosperous economy that works for everyone. Some of our programs and policies include:

  • Workforce Development: Harris County is committed to strengthening and growing our workforce with initiatives like Hire Up Harris and our Advantage Apprenticeship program, which partners with labor unions and nonprofits to connect people in underserved areas with the training they need to access good paying jobs in high[1]demand industries like construction, public transportation, tech, and other trades.

    To learn more about Hire Up Harris and Advantage Apprenticeship, visit:

  • MWBE and Small Business Development: Through the Department of Economic Equity and Opportunity, the county’s Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) and Small Business Program helps small businesses, entrepreneurs, and companies owned by people of color and women succeed, fairly compete for work, and create jobs in our communities.

    To learn more about the Department of Economic Equity and Opportunity and its programs, visit:
  • Living Wages: Harris County is leading by example in the fight for $15 with policies that establish a living wage for county employees and require county contractors pay workers a living wage on construction projects. We’re working to expand this policy to all county projects.
  • Worker Safety: To ensure companies doing business with Harris County or receiving a tax break share our commitment to worker health and safety, Harris County requires county contractors to provide OSHA safety training for county construction jobs to protect and empower workers.

    To learn more about worker safety trainings, visit:
  • Inclusive Economic Development: When companies get a tax break from Harris County, it should create opportunities and prosperity for everyone. Harris County’s tax abatement policy encourages MWBE participation and requires that businesses pay living wages, offer health care plans, hire local, and have a fair chance hiring policy. Our tax break policy also incentivizes green and sustainable innovations to help fight climate change and protect our environment.

Ensuring Families Have Basic Building Blocks to Thrive

Harris County is operating and developing programs to strengthen and support communities with services and resources that help people care for their families and meet basic needs so no one is left behind, falling through the cracks, or going without the essentials they need to thrive. No family should have to choose between keeping the lights on or making rent; struggle to put food on the table; or worry about childcare. Some of our programs and policies include:

  • Healthy Food and Nutrition: Harris County has provided grants to partner organizations working to end food insecurity and help families put food on the table, including the Houston Food Bank, Urban Harvest, and others to increase access to healthy nutritious food for seniors, youth, and families.

    To learn more about healthy food programs with our partners, visit:
  • Childcare and Education: Harris County is investing in our youth like never before to ensure all children have a bright start in life and a safe place to learn and grow. The Early REACH program is increasing access and capacity for high-quality, childcare programs for children ages 0-4. Other early childhood initiatives focus on early education, support for young children in the foster care system, and supporting families with in-home care. The county is also investing in after-school programs and summer enrichment programs to provide youth of all ages the care and support they need.

    To learn more about childcare and education programs, visit:
  • Digital Access and Literacy: Harris County is working to bridge the digital divide to ensure families have access to the internet and computers, which are essential needs in the 21st century, and know how to use them. Having access to the internet, computers, digital resources, and training helps families pursue opportunities for work and education, access vital services, and stay connected.

    To learn more about available programs and resources, visit:
  • Safe and Affordable Homes: Everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home in Harris County. To address our region’s housing crisis, the county is working to increase access to safe, stable, and affordable homes; protect tenants; encourage homeownership; reduce homelessness; and help people stay in their homes through eviction defense and mortgage relief.

    To learn more about housing resources, visit:
  • Economic Stability: Harris County is developing, Uplift Harris, a guaranteed income pilot in targeted high-poverty zip codes to provide families struggling to make ends meet with an income floor—the stable ground they need to rise above poverty, tear down barriers, and build a better life. Similar programs in other regions have been shown to help families cover the basics like groceries, utilities, rent and other essential needs; increase employment; reduce poverty; and improve overall health and well-being for participating families, while yielding economic and social benefits for communities as a whole.

These are just some of our policies, programs, and initiatives the county is working on to create a prosperous, thriving Harris County. It will take time, but we are working every day to make a difference for families across Harris County.

If you or someone you know needs help today, connect with the United Way 211 Helpline to find other available resources in your community.

Call 211
Visit United Way Houston
Text your zip code to 898211