USPS communication has been an issue for years, Houston-area leaders say, amid delays

A 10-year initiative to make the postal system more efficient has delayed mail due to ‘poor planning’, Congressman Al Green said in a press release.

A photograph of a sign in front of the Missouri City Carrier Annex in Missouri City, TX.
Patricia Ortiz/Houston Public Media
The Missouri City Carrier Annex is one of two distribution centers facing mail delays in the Houston area.

As mail delays at two Houston area distribution centers continue, some local leaders say they have struggled to set up a meeting with the postal service.

Republican Congressmen Randy Weber and Morgan Luttrell held a press conference in front of the Missouri City distribution center, located at 3701 Glenn Lakes Lane, on Friday with plans to ask for a walk-in tour of the facility after the conference. Weber said he’s faced communication issues with the postal service for years now.

“They seem to stonewall us. I know they’re stonewalling people. I’ve asked for a meeting but they can’t meet because they’re in ‘training’,” he said. “We still don’t seem to have answers on what they plan to do to ensure folks that they actually get their packages.”

Weber said the postal service was similarly evasive in the past when he contacted them about persistent mail theft issues in the Galveston area.

Luttrell said his office has received hundreds if not thousands of calls about mail delays and has heard the frustrations of many of his constituents. He said the everyday mail carrier might also be on the receiving end of these frustrations.

“Don’t kill the messenger. Unfortunately, they’re the ones that are engaging with the Texans,” he said. “… Please understand that the young lady or the young man knocking on your door that’s supposed to have your package, or at the post office, it’s not directly correlated to that individual, it’s a systemic problem.”

Democratic Congressman Al Green said in a press release that he and fellow Democratic Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia have spoken to the National Association of Postal Supervisors (NAPS) and learned about the 10-year “Delivering for America” plan. The NAPS is made up of both active and retired postal supervisors, managers, and postmasters.

“This 10-year initiative is intended to enhance the USPS’ efficiency, but, three years into the plan, projections have regrettably fallen short,” Green said in a press release. “In particular, High Output Package Sorters (HOPS) that were intended to replace the less efficient Automated Parcel Bundle Sorters (APBS) in the North Houston sorting facility encountered setbacks due to poor planning.”

According to what Green said he learned from the meeting, staffing shortages after Christmas and cost-cutting measures like relying on ground transportation also contributed to delays.

Weber said he’s been told the backlog on deliveries should have been handled already.

“Our congressional staff was promised that the issues affecting this Missouri City facility would be cleared out by the end of the weekend, meaning January 22nd at the latest. That wasn’t the case. I have gotten the runaround from the postal service time, and time again, and if I’m getting it as a member of Congress, I can only imagine how constituents are feeling,” he said.

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Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia’s office said the Office of Inspector General has been investigating the Missouri City distribution center.

“After weeks of working with Representative Al Green to demand action, the Office of the Inspector General has responded and has been in Houston investigating this matter and will provide a full report of their findings with recommendations,” Garcia said in a statement provided Thursday. “Our constituents have made their voices heard loud and clear: USPS has failed them. This is unacceptable, and we will continue to work on this matter until reliable mail delivery is once again the norm. We will always be committed to ensure that our essential services are delivered in an efficient, timely and seamless operation to our constituents.”

When Houston Public Media reached out to USPS on Thursday, they provided a statement similar to what has been provided previously to other media outlets.

“We are aware of concerns from some local Houston customers regarding their mail delivery. We want customers to know that we continue the expansion of our operations in the Houston area because of increased volume and we are adding additional capacity with a new facility to improve service.” They also said they have dispatched additional resources from the surrounding area and implemented processes to address the root causes of the issues.

“Customers should also note that multiple severe weather events in Houston and across the nation have impacted many transportation, logistics, and delivery companies, and the Postal Service is no exception,” the statement continued. “We express our apologies to those who experienced a deviation from our normal dependable service and customers should already see improvements in delivery as we work through these issues.”

Ann Schneider is a Missouri City resident who said she’s been using other postal systems while delays continue. She said she had medication she ordered in mid-December and traveled to different post offices asking about the whereabouts of her package.

“We couldn’t get any answers anywhere. Just, ‘be patient’,” she said. “… it did finally show up about a week and a half ago. … I feel I was lucky, maybe I made enough noise to get mine delivered, or they just happened to pick up my package.”